Clarice Lakota
Dancers perform at the annual Black Hills Pow Wow.

Black Hills Pow Wow Beckons With Record $75K at Stake

Tish Leizens

An early winter storm that dumped some 20 inches of snow in Rapid City, South Dakota, is not expected to discourage visitors from making their way to the 2013 Black Hills Pow Wow this weekend.

“We are glad that has been taken care of. The forecast is pretty decent this weekend,” said Stephen Yellowhawk, (Lakota) president of the Black Hills Pow Wow Association, who expects a high turnout on the heels of a record prize payout of $75,000 up from $60,000 last year.

“We stayed home for three days. Now, people are anxious to get out,” he said.

For its three-day 27th Annual He Sapa Wacipi, October 11 to 13, the Association has brought back the popular Northern Cree as host drum. 

Good drums, singing and dancing, plus a mix of events for all ages are a good draw for a crowd anticipated at 30,000, said Yellowhawk. On Saturday, rising star Talia Reasoner, (Seminole and Cherokee) will be singing the national anthem.

The pow wow, with a theme “Come Dance With Us,” will be held at Rapid City’s Rushmore Plaza Civic Center. On the agenda are the Youth Day Symposium, golf tournament, Miss He Sapa Win Contest, archery tournament, Hand Game competition, fine art show and 3k and 5K Run/Walk events.

“Everyone is welcome to enjoy the beauty of Great Plains indigenous song and dance,” said Yellowhawk. “We will be having the largest singing contest on record ever for the Black Hills Pow Wow paying out $27,000 in prizes for our second ‘Champions of the Northern Plains’ singing contest.”

The first place gets $10,000 (a $3,000 increase from last year) and a trophy; second place gets $6,000; third place, $4,000; and fifth through ninth, $1,000 each.

Yellowhawk said there are six dance categories: the Platinum Age and the Golden Age; Men’s Traditional, Grass, Fancy; Women’s Traditional, Jingle, Fancy; Teen Boys and Girls Traditional Fancy, Grass/Jingle; and Junior Boys and Girls Traditional, Fancy, Grass/Jingle. Special dances include, the Men’s Chicken Dance and the Women’s Fancy Shaw.

Heading the staff of the pow wow, are performers in the region who are affiliated with Lakota and Northern Cheyenne tribes. Named to the staff are Ruben Little Head and Virgil Taken Alive, as announcers; Rusty Gilette and Ted Phelps, arena directors; Gerald Zephier, head singing judge; and Cheyenne River, host veterans.

With preparations in place, the anticipation is also building. “We are excited for our event,” Yellowhawk said. “We are getting phone calls from people coming from out of town.”