Native American dancers will compete and perform at the South Dakota State University Wacipi. The powwow will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15 and 16 at the Swiftel Center in Brookings.
As the South Dakota State University campus and the Brookings community are collectively reading a book about the challenges facing modern American Indians, a chance to enhance that experience will take place with the presentation of SDSU’s first-ever fall wacipi or powwow.
The book for this year’s Common Read, “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,” tells the story of an American Indian teenager struggling with the challenges of reservation life and trying to fit into white society.
“Hopefully, that book will spark interest in people who might not otherwise go to a powwow,” said Scott Fleming, director of the American Indian Education and Cultural Center on campus and one of the powwow’s organizers.
The powwow will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15 and 16, at the Swiftel Center in Brookings. Admission is $5.50 per day or $7.50 for both days. SDSU students are admitted free with their ID. Children under age 6 and senior citizens older than 55 are admitted at no charge.
Dance contests will be held in a variety of styles and age categories with prize money available to the winners.
“The powwow is a social gathering,” Fleming explained. “It’s for everyone.”
While there are contests associated with the powwow, Fleming said that visitors shouldn’t expect the fast pace of a sporting event. He likened the pace to a reunion picnic in the park.
“It’s not just for dancers and not just for the Native American community,” Fleming said.
Various songs are played throughout the day and at times the announcer will call for an intertribal song.
“That’s for everybody to go out there and dance around that circle,” Fleming said. “It’s the most inclusive kind of social activity.”
The SDSU Wacipi has been a tradition for 21 years, but this is the first time it has been held in the fall. While it’s well-timed to coincide with this year’s Common Read, the change to a fall powwow has been in the works for some time.
“We’ve been talking about a fall powwow as a way to welcome back students and their families,” Fleming said. “Next year, we want this to rival some of the most famous fall powwows.”
For more information about the powwow, call the American Indian Education and Cultural Center at 605-688-6019 or email.