We attended a Pow-Wow or Wacipi, as it is known, up in Brookings over the weekend at South Dakota State University sponsored by the college's Native American Club. We had been to a smaller Pow-Wow last fall but it really paled in comparison to this recent event. There are many of these types of events throughout the United States during the year. In the warmer months they're held outside but move indoors during the harsher winter.
The word Wacipi (pronounced "wa chee pi" in the Dakota language) means to dance. Pow-wow is a term universally accepted by tribal nations as a celebration of singing and dancing. Traditionally, it is a time when people gather to sing, dance, renew old friendships and make new ones. It is an exciting celebration of the traditions and creativity of the Indian culture. It is bright and colorful with singing and banging of drums in remembrance of all who have come before and as reminder of who they are as a people. The young are learning traditions passed on from older generations and coming together as a culture they have done for centuries.
Although the pictures do it some justice, it does not really convey the spirit of the event. The drum banging is raucous and spirited and the dancing is energetic. The adornments of the participants are absolutely stunning and you must respect the countless hours that have been spent in preparing the ceremonial regalia.
There are two different types of Wacipi: traditional and competitive. The event we attended was competitive and the singers and drummers competed in different categories in order to receive prize money. Following the Grand Entry where all of the dancers enter the arena, the participants compete in a variety of dances including the Fancy Dance, Grass Dance, Traditional Dance and the Jingle Dress Dance. There are also Inter-tribal Dance periods that are open for anyone to take part in.
I really loved exposing my kids to this experience. It is a segment of our country that many people never encounter. My daughter Bethany was particularly taken with the Jingle Dancers and she had a hard time sitting still when we finally got home.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at the Pow-wow; Kristen and I loved photographing the beautiful imagery and it gave us all a further appreciation for all of the Indian culture and beliefs that we only have a novice awareness of. I think these types of events are so important not only to educate the public but also to be able to preserve customs for Indian generations as a reminder of their past. I was so excited to see some of our kids from the Indian School dancing and having a true appreciation for the event.
Enjoy the photos! There will be more available on the Chaplaincy Facebook page in the coming days.
Special thanks to SDSU Native American Club for hosting and providing much
of the information contained in this posting.
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