Wacipi !

The word wacipi ( wah CHI pee) translates as “we all dance.” And, that’s exactly what was happening in spite of 100 degree summer heat during this weekend’s Wacipi! Last year, due to COVID, the wacipi was not open to the public. This year, they had the largest turnout ever, with over 1,000 dancers registered to compete and perhaps another 1,000 dancers who came just to dance (not to compete.) 
A group of students from our tribal school.

The Kit Fox Society is a traditional organization of warriors. The members here
represent participants in all branches of the US Armed Forces. They
are the traditional honor guard at wacipis etc. During COVID they
also helped with roadblocks, managing quarantine limits, and distribution
of emergency supplies to families.

This is the flag (Eagle Staff) of the Kit Fox Society. It is carried by the honor guard.

Men’s Traditional Dancer: He has a buffalo skin shield on his left arm
and carries an eagle fan in his right hand. The decorations on
his regalia are mostly beadwork.

Women’s Traditional Dancers: buckskin or doe skin dresses with wide beaded or
leather belts. Decorations are cowrie shell and beadwork. (If they look a little warm,
it was 100 degrees F and doe/buckskin outfits are heavy!!)

These women are wearing “Jingle Dress” regalia. Applique and/or beadwork are added, depending
on the tribal custom. 

There were more than 15 different drum groups represented, including some who traveled from Montana, Oklahoma, Canada, and California. Dancers’ regalia represented so many different tribal nations. As you look at the photos, you’ll see all different styles of beadwork, applique, head pieces, and clothing. Each culture (there are over 1,000 different indigenous cultures within the borders of the United States, and thousands more across the rest of the two continents in our hemisphere) incorporates traditional designs; each artist adds his or her originality to each hand-made piece. It’s amazing to consider how much careful work goes into the regalia represented at a wacipi like this!

Bright colors and combinations of beadwork, applique, and quillwork are 
characteristic of the Grass Dancers. 
COVID claimed so many lives on our reservation. Many families are still in the one-year traditional mourning period. 

Handmade quilts and blankets for the Wopida.
This family offered a wopida, or a traditional prayer of gratitude to Tunkasina (Grandfather God/ Creator God) for those in their tiwahe who survived. A wopida is a “give-away” and the extended family provides gifts to all as a concrete way of signaling their gratitude for the support they received from others during their difficult time and their gratitude to God for protection.
It is also common to give away household goods as part of a wopida.

This coming year will also be filled with Memorial feasts for those who died from COVID. Memorial feasts are held at the end of the year of mourning. They also involve a ceremony and give-away. Families spend the whole year of mourning making and collecting things for the Memorial feast.