"Come Dance With Us"—Culture and Community at the Black Hills Powwow | Black Hills Travel Blog

"Come Dance With Us"—Culture and Community at the Black Hills Powwow

  • "Come Dance With Us"—Culture and Community at the Black Hills Powwow
    "Come Dance With Us"—Culture and Community at the Black Hills Powwow
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2019
By : 
Alyssa

This weekend, the halls of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center will echo with the sounds of celebration. All 250,000 square-feet of the building will ring with singing, dancing, hand games and hundreds of individuals competing for over $100,000 of prizes at the Black Hills Powwow. This event, now in its 33rd year, unites competitors and spectators from all across North America in the Black Hills to inspire passion and education for Great Plains indigenous culture.

Striving to be the world’s largest indoor powwow in the year 2021, the Black Hills Powwow has hundreds of dancers and singers competing in 36 different dance categories and one singing category for the title of World Champion of the Black Hills Singing Contest. Additional key events include the grand entries, 3-D archery shoot, downtown parade, the Fine Arts Avenue (with over 100 vendors and artisans) and the Youth Day Symposium.

The Youth Day Symposium, recently brought back to the Powwow in 2019 with the help of additional funding and sponsors, anticipates over 4,500 children in attendance. The symposium connects with children of all ages and backgrounds through Lakota language, hand games, song, dance and performances to spark pride and understanding in younger generations.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BLACK HILLS POWWOW

Overall, the symposium—in addition to the Powwow in large—functions as a means to keep cultures and traditions alive by reigniting interest in Great Plains indigenous culture and Lakota Sioux culture among children. Ten years ago, the symposium had only 12 attendees—now, with thousands of attendees showing up, there is no doubt the efforts of the event are paying off.

However, the Powwow’s reach extends far beyond only the younger generations. The Powwow connects a community of hundreds within the Black Hills to celebrate and have fun while strengthening the culture. Efforts like powwows keep indigenous language, traditional songs, dances and art alive and practiced throughout the community. Without the rejuvenation and passion that these events spark, the information risks being lost over time.

EXPERIENCING THE BLACK HILLS POWWOW

Visitors are reminded not to touch a participant or their regalia or take a photo of the participant without their expressed consent. If any part of a participant’s regalia is dropped, do not touch it or pick it up—inform them, and they will retrieve it themselves.

If you are in any doubt during an event, please pay attention to the Master of Ceremonies for instructions on proper etiquette and behavior. They are prepared to provide direction to spectators before all events and grand entries. The MC will also provide explanations and descriptions of the various dances and performances that take place. If you are unfamiliar with any performance or behavior, it is best to listen to the MC.

The theme for the past few years for the Black Hills Powwow has been “Come Dance With Us”—visitors should take this invitation to heart. Spectators are welcome at the powwow to watch the events and soak in the excitement, pageantry and beauty of the event. The Powwow is a communal gathering, with a goal of unity and pride at its heart, so be ready to share an event if and when you are invited. Visitors should expect to be awed, to hear and see new things and to have fun most of all!

See more events that are happening at the Black Hills Powwow this weekend.

Black Hills Powwow
Friday, October 9, 2020 (All day) to Sunday, October 11, 2020 (All day)

The Black Hills Powwow or He Sapa Wacipi is a preeminent Black Hills event that’s three days filled with Native American singing, dancing, drum groups, art show, handgames, athletic competitions and a variety of other events. Over the decades, the Black Hills Powwow has become one of the premier American Indian cultural events in the United States attracting hundreds of dancers, singers, artisans and thousands of spectators from across North America.

About the Author

Alyssa is a Chadron State College graduate with deep roots in the Black Hills and Badlands. As an English Major, she has a passion for writing, people, animals, stationary, and (of course) South Dakota. Her friends often describe her as loyal, funny, and someone who always keeps things interesting. 

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