The Exhilaration of the Black Hills Powwow | Black Hills Travel Blog

The Exhilaration of the Black Hills Powwow

  • The Exhilaration of the Black Hills Powwow
    The Exhilaration of the Black Hills Powwow
  • The Exhilaration of the Black Hills Powwow
    The Exhilaration of the Black Hills Powwow
Updated: Monday, October 14, 2019
By : 
Alyssa

This weekend, I had the privilege of watching one of the world’s largest indoor powwows, with hundreds of participants, take place right here in the Black Hills. Now in its 33rd year, the Black Hills Powwow unites competitors and spectators from all across North America to inspire passion and education for indigenous culture. 

Sitting in the main hall, the beat of the drum fills the entire room and resonates deep in your ribcage. It’s difficult not to be taken away by the powerful emotion in the room. As Stephen Yellowhawk, President of the Black Hills Powwow Association, says, “When you hear that drumbeat—we call it the heartbeat of our nation…there’s some medicine to those songs and it really makes you feel good.” 

As the Powwow’s Master of Ceremonies, Whitney Rencountre’s voice rang out jubilantly over the sounds of the drum, of the singers and the dancers during Saturday’s Grand Entrance. “Ladies and Gentlemen, the dancers are dancing for each and every one of you—dancing for our grandmothers, for our grandfathers, those with illnesses, those that are going through a hard time—the dancers are out here, dancing for you!” 

Over a hundred dancers all on the main floor dance with pride and passion, having gathered in the Black Hills from all over North America to showcase their skill. People from the southwest, grasslands, and even as far as Saskatchewan have gathered as a community to join together and share this experience with one another. All dance for their own reasons, as Yellowhawk explains, but they unite all together in dance and song.

Watching everyone move is mesmerizing and exhilarating. Every movement is amplified by the regalia—feathers, bells, mirrors, shawls, beads, tassels all playing their part in the dance. 

Watching the kids’ symposium on Friday, it is easy to see the same emotions reflected in the faces of over 4,500 students as they learn about the various indigenous dances and songs and some Lakota Sioux language. Events like these not only strengthen and reignite interest and passion for indigenous culture, but also expose younger generations to the cultures and traditions. It is an incredible event to witness—one that spurs conversation, pride, and understanding within the Black Hills. 

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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