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Old 10-09-2005, 01:39 PM   #1
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Arrow Wacipi Draws Dancers, Drums

Wacipi Draws Dancers, Drums
by Jomay Steen, Staff Writer
Rapid City Journal - 9 October 2005

RAPID CITY, SD — Today, the final day of a three-day powwow, the He Sapa Wacipi Black Hills Pow Wow committee has something to celebrate.

Wayne Weston, committee president, said that attendance numbers of the 19th annual He Sapa Wacipi Black Hills Pow Wow were strong. In some cases, they were higher than last year’s count.

“We crashed the roof in terms of dancers,” he said.

Misty Mousseaux, registration committee member, said 65 more dancers had registered Saturday, with more exhibition dancers expected for Sunday’s specials.

“We’ve had 465 dancers, which doesn’t include the tiny tots. Twenty-six different tribes from across the nation and Canada are represented here,” she said.

After 17 hours of work, Mousseaux closed dance registration about 3 p.m. Saturday.

“It’s been hectic,” she said.

Announcers Butch Felix and Chris Eagle Hawk congratulated the organizers and committee members at Saturday afternoon’s grand entry.

“The committee simply outdoes itself every year,” Felix said.

Weston considered the 465 dancers and 31 drum groups a success but was still waiting Saturday afternoon for an official count on audience attendance.

Weston said the powwow had drawn a diverse audience.

“I’ve seen a number of our non-Indian family here, and I’m really happy about that,” he said.

Drum roll call and parade of royalty begins at 12:30 p.m. today with the final grand entry at 1 p.m. in the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center arena. Vendors Open Market runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Fine Arts Avenue opens at 10 a.m. in LaCroix Hall. Cost is $6 for adults, $3.25 for children ages 4 to 12; free for children ages 3 and younger and elders ages 65 and older.

Arena director Joe Lafferty will host a men’s grass dance special at 11 a.m., one of the highlights of today’s performances.

Philomine Lakota, hand game coordinator, was pleased with the number of people competing at the inaugural tournament. Fourteen teams with 140 participants began playing Saturday and continue today in Rushmore Hall. Finals will go through the afternoon, with the winners announced at 6 p.m., she said.

“We’re in eliminations now,” Lakota said.

Arena director Marcell Bull Bear said the numbers were fine, but the real success was people seeing each other, sharing what had been happening in their lives, sharing news about themselves, their new grandchildren and their new songs.

“That’s more important,” he said.

The success Bull Bear saw also was in the number of people seeing the powwow for the first time.

During an intertribal number, Bull Bear said the dancers were cruising, enjoying the songs and getting rid of their stress before starting the evening’s contests. Pointing out the regalia worn by the dancers, he said that the artwork, feathers and designs would easily be worth $3,000 to $4,000 each. Statistics were fine, but it didn’t show the powwow’s big picture, Bull Bear said.

“People are seeing how majestic it is and how sacred it is to us,” Bull Bear said.

It was their first visit to the powwow for Teresa and Doug Bellamy of Ellsworth Air Force Base. Natives of Louisiana and Florida, they had wanted to take their two small children to the wacipi to introduce them to the culture of their new home.

“It’s very exciting. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Doug Bellamy said.

“It’s almost an emotional thing, but I don’t know why,” Teresa Bellamy said.

Teresa Bellamy admired the glittering dresses of the jingle dancers and fancy dancers. She said that she might have Seminole bloodlines in her heritage.

“I’m coming back next year. If I have even a drop of Seminole blood, I’m dancing,” she said.

Tom Van Norman, a state lawmaker from Eagle Butte, arrived Friday evening to don his traditional regalia to dance with friends and relatives. He had started dancing again about five years ago.

“I’m having fun,” he said.

Even though Van Norman, 41, hadn’t registered as a contestant, he danced in Saturday’s afternoon grand entry, victory dance and intertribal program.

“If you know how, you dance for your people,” he said.
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"Be good, be kind, help each other."
"Respect the ground, respect the drum, respect each other."

--Abe Conklin, Ponca/Osage (1926-1995)
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