Tuesday, February 3, 2009

SGU Founder's Day wacipi

I went to a pow-wow this past weekend--which the Lakota call a wacipi (wah-CHEE-pee)--and it was fantastic. I heard styles of drumming I'd never heard before. I saw dances I'd never seen before. And the dancing and singing and drumming were all excellent. Here are some photos with commentary for a little taste of what it was like...

This is Albert White Hat, in the middle wearing the black hat (confusing?). He is one of the two mc's; at this point he & the other one are teasing the dancers or audience about something. The mc keeps things going, announces dances and gives upcoming dancers a heads up, and announces which drum is going to play. Sometimes he also tells jokes. :)

Here is one of the women's competitions--the teen fancy shawl dance. You can see from this little bit how colorful the shawls are, and how dramatic the movements are. And their feet are MOVING! I had the opportunity to talk to this girl's mom, and she said her daughter designs and sews her own dresses and shawls.

Here is a little girl being escorted by her daddy (I think). As soon as babies are old enough to walk, they start dancing!

Here is another intertribal dance--where everyone can dance, even those not wearing regalia. Men dance counterclockwise, and women clockwise; a man in the audience told me they're imitating what buffalo do when the males protect the females. It's also to maintain balance.

You will also notice that, when women get out there and dance, it's often social hour. :) (The stands look kind of empty here, but on Sat. & Sun. it was standing room only!)

Here's another photo I like from the intertribal dances; a grandpa (I think) carrying a baby, a guy who seems non-Indian, and between them a top dancer in regalia, all dancing together. To their right you can see a few jingle dress dancers headed the other way. Shane Red Hawk says that they take the babies out there to get that rhythm into them as soon as possible; it helps them become who they're meant to be. The teenagers may abandon their people's ways, but because that rhythm has been instilled in them, they will eventually come back.

Here is a drum. It's traditional that only men drum, but women will stand behind and sing the choruses an octave higher than the men. This particular drum is an award-winning young men's group. On this song, several girls (notice how young!) were really SINGING! There were about 19 drums at this wacipi--the most I've ever seen in one place.

This is a Rabbit Dance--something I'd never seen at a pow-wow before. It was so beautiful. The women were "golden age" women's traditional competitors, and the crowd yelled "one more!" when they were finished their first dance, so they each grabbed a male partner and danced this one. The song was really sweet, and the steps of the dancers really pretty. People in the audience (including me!) were teary-eyed at the end. At least one woman danced with a grandson, and you can see that some of the men were not in regalia; they danced beautifully anyway. This dance made me miss Patrick. :)

So that's what I did this weekend, in addition to finding the GOOD grocery store in town.

Now I need to practice how to introduce myself to a group in Lakota for class tomorrow morning. It's hard!



  1. Hello;
    My name is Jim and I grew up on Rosebud Reservation. My family lives in Rosebud. I use Google alerts to keep up on whats happening on the Rez and it provided me with your blog. I liked your description of the wacipi and it made me homesick. Enjoy your stay and keep warm. LOL

  2. Thanks, Jim! I'm glad I brought you a little taste of home.