Wacipi promotes “healing through education” at annual event

Serena Davis, Assistant Lifestyles Editor

South Dakota State University’s annual Wacipi is ready to go for April 1 and 2 in the Volstroff Ballroom in the Student Union. 

The Wacipi event features Native American dancers, food and other cultural staples. American Indian Student Association (AISA) club president Dallas Kelso, a sophomore English education major, said this is a great opportunity to show off culture to the community. 

“For AISA, this event means a lot, we enjoy putting (it) on and the exposure from the Wacipi event,” Kelso said. “With the amount of people that come, it makes it unique for everyone.”

Wacipi means “they dance” in Lakota, and it is a time to gather and express the traditions from the Indigenous communities. The theme for this year’s Wacipi is “We Heal through Education.” The meaning stems from the hardships that Native ancestors went through when they were sent to residential schools, said Wacipi chairwoman Margaret Bad Warrior, a sophomore early childhood education major. 

Bad Warrior said the biggest challenge this year was the budget, but they were able to overcome the challenges the restricted budget brought. 

“I have faced many challenges, but they have allowed me to grow as a leader and a young Lakota winyan,” Bad Warrior said. Winyan means “woman” in Lakota. 

Kelso, who attended and helped with the Wacipi last year, said this event not only bridges the gap between SDSU and the Brookings community but also helps to bring people of all cultural backgrounds together. 

“We really love being able to show our community what makes up our culture and what it means to us,” Kelso said. “It’s also a great opportunity to understand South Dakota culture as a whole, since Native American culture is so prevalent.” 

Bad Warrior agreed with Kelso, saying that by doing the event in the Student Union, it is another way to really get students involved. 

“We want students of all backgrounds and all majors to come,” Bad Warrior said. 

AISA will be selling Indian tacos across the two days as well as hosting a free community supper featuring homemade fry bread and a specialty berry pudding called wojapi. The American Indian Science and Engineering Society (AISES) will have an Indian taco sale Friday, March 24 to get people excited and ready for the event. 

“We’ve been doing Indian taco sales all year,” Kelso said. “This one is important because it’s our last one before the big event, and we really want to get students excited about Wacipi.” 

The event starts early on Saturday morning at 9 a.m. with the elder dancers and moves down the line in ages as the day progresses. This year’s host drum band, Bad Nation, is well known in the Indigenous community, according to Bad Warrior. Another special aspect to this year’s Wacipi is a powwow royalty set to be in attendance, however the name has not been disclosed yet.

“With an event as large as ours, we want to have the best of the best when it comes to our cultural pride,” Bad Warrior said. 

For students wanting to attend, the event is free for SDSU students and for the community.

“This is a great way to take a break from studying, and for anyone who has never been, it’s a unique experience,” Kelso said.

ASIA member Bree Eastman said she had never been to a powwow before attending SDSU and thinks this a great way to understand the culture.

“Everything about Native American history is so unique, and I didn’t understand that until I went to my first Wacipi,” Eastman said. “It’s so diverse and I think that diversity is mirrored in the rest of the culture.”