28th Annual Black Hills Powwow

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Last weekend marked Rapid City’s 28th annual Black Hills Powwow. Hundreds of Native dancers, singers, musicians, and artisans were brought together for the “Come Dance with Us” themed festivities.

Traditional performances, art shows, and sports tournaments made the powwow an event to be remembered. Many attendees view the event as the prime time to showcase their talents and celebrate their cultural identities. The prizes for competitions totaled over $85,000– the Northern Plains singing event alone awarded $27,000 to its winners .

Stephen Yellowhawk, board president of the Black Hills Powwow Association, said that, “It’s our dream to reach out to everyone, even if they’re not powwow dancers or singers, and make them feel welcome here in our community.” The powwow certainly accomplished just that— unifying Natives from across the United States and Canada, along with non-Native spectators, for three days of cultural celebration.

Joining that spirit of unification, Lakota People’s Law Project was happy to attend the powwow and meet with tribes who were recently approved for Title IV-E federal planning grants to begin the planning process.

The powwow kicked off on Friday with the Youth Day Symposium, which brought in over 4,000 Rapid City School District students to hear a speech from Olympic medalist and Pine Ridge native Billy Mills. The 1964 Olympic medalist spoke to the youth about the importance of diversity and perseverance.

Thirteen-year-old Sancha St. John admires Mills’ accomplishments, saying, “He’s inspiring us to do better and achieve more. He’s showing us how we can do good in life.”

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To find out more about Billy’s charity foundation, check out his initiative Running Strong for American Indian Youth.

The 28th Black Hills Powwow was a massive success, celebrating tradition, spirituality, and, above all else, community. We are both encouraged and excited to move forward with our efforts developing tribal child and family service programs with this renewed sense of unity and commitment!

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