Wacipi celebrates spring renewal at SDSU

Ann Kopecky

Ann Kopecky

The powwow, or “wacipi” in the Dakota language, was originally a spring event to celebrate the seasonal renewal of life. Today, powwows are still very much a part of Native Amercans’ lives around the country.

On Sat., Feb. 28 the 14th anuual SDSU powwow will be held in Frost Arena.

Approximately 2,000 people are expected to attend the event. One of the largest pow-wows in the state, American Indians from North Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska, as well South Dakota, will attend the celebration in Brookings.

Admission is $4. Senior citizens, children under 6 and SDSU students with ID are free.

Butch Felix will be the master of ceremonies for the event. Richard Milda is the arena director and Gordon Weston Lodge is the honor guard for the powwow.

The powwow, sponsored by the SDSU Native American Club and Students Association, will begin with a grand entry at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The entry, derived from rodeos and Wild West shows, introduces dancers, club members and the veterans groups holding American, state and tribal flags. An invocation, flag song and victory song follow.

Dancing begins with inter-tribal dancing. Everyone dresses according to their dance style, but anyone can come out whether they have an outfit or not, according to Valerian Three Irons, Diversity and Service Learning associate at SDSU.

After the intertribal dancing, contest dancing begins. Dancers are divided by age and category. The top three in each category receive prize money.

The powwow will host men and teen boys’ traditional, fancy and grass dance categories. In the women and teen girls’ dance, the categories are traditional, fancy and jingle. All tiny tots in regalia are paid and all drums are paid. The first five drums are guaranteed $125.

A buffalo feed will begin at 5 p.m. Vendors will sell native craft and raw material items and Native American Club members will sell Indian tacos.

The Native American Club also honors one person each year with a distinguished alumni award. Ron Volesky was last year’s recipient. SDSU Native American graduates who are distinguished in their careers are also honored at the powwow.

Funding for the event comes from the SDSU Student Association who gives about $6,500 to the club while Native American Club members raise about $4,000.

Native American Club members devote a great deal of time and energy to the powwow.

“It takes a lot of work,” Three Irons said. “That is SDSU’s biggest event.”

Three Irons encourages people of all cultures to attend the annual powwow.

“See what it’s about. Learn part of the culture,” Three Irons said. “It’s for SDSU as well as for Native Americans in the region.”