On the first Tuesday of every month, Tiospaye — a student organization at the University of South Dakota — hosts a taco sale at the Native American Cultural Center.
Tiospaye, which translates to ‘extended family’ from Lakota, is geared toward Native American students who become close through fundraisers, community events, a PowWow and weekly meetings.
While the taco sale raises funds for the organization, Tiospaye President Aspen Ducheneaux said there is more to the taco sale than the money alone.
“It’s like a sense of home, the tacos (are), just because they’re something the Native culture have made for so long,” Ducheneaux said. “It’s like a family event.”
In partnership with Cherry Street Grille, Tiospaye typically brings in around $300 in funds. The restaurant then receives a third of the revenue generated from the taco sales, which Severson said only covers the raw cost of the goods provided to the student organization.
The organization sells one taco and a drink for $6, or two tacos and a drink for $10.
“It’s a very worthy cause,” said Ben Severson, the manager at Cherry Street Grille, citing his Vermillion roots for his willingness to help Tiospaye.
Jon Robertson, owner of Cherry Street Grille, has a Native American background, which is part of the reason behind the business’s partnership with Tiospaye, Severson said.
Cherry Street Grille provides the meat, cheese, lettuce and tomatoes, while Tiospaye provides the frybread and drinks.
Veronica Guzman, who works in the USD admissions office, attended the Nov. 4 fundraiser to support the Native American Cultural Center. Of course, the taste of the tacos was also a plus, she said.
“They’re delicious — I can’t say no to those,” Guzman said.
Tiospaye, which has 25 to 30 active members, typically has five people helping per shift. There is a lunch shift from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and a 5 to 7 p.m. dinner shift.
Ducheneaux said they have between 100 to 150 people show up for each session. These people range from USD students and staff to Vermillion community members.
“We do one every month to help cover our costs,” said Tiospaye Vice President Daniel Keller.
The money from the taco sales, along with Student Government funding, helps to fund events like Wacipi, — Tiospaye’s annual PowWow — and their annual Monster Stomp.
Wacipi is Tiospaye’s largest event, and is not limited to just USD students, or even residents of South Dakota. The next Wacipi is slated for March 28 and 29, 2015.
There are three sessions of Wacipi, two on the first day and one the subsequent day. Adults and teens compete in different dance categories, with first, second and third place receiving prize money.
Tiospaye also gives back to the Vermillion community by hosting its annual Monster Stomp, which was held Oct. 30.
“It was like a little kiddie carnival,” Ducheneaux said.
About 20 members helped set up the event as well as play with the children who attended it, Ducheneaux said.
Tiospaye advertises the events through flyers at daycares and elementary schools in Vermillion. During the event, children interact with each other and Tiospaye members through games. Tiospaye also serves hot dogs, nachos and drinks.
“It’s a give back to the community type thing,” Ducheneaux said.
Ducheneaux said any USD student is welcome to join Tiospaye.
“What we try and do is make a place away from home for anybody and everybody,” he said.
Keller also encourages anybody to join Tiospaye.
“Come,” Keller said. “We’re all inclusive. It’s a great time. We have a lot of fun, and we try to stay on top of everything we get involved in.”
Tiospaye meets every Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Native American Cultural Center.
(Photo: Vermillion community members Doris Peterson and Bill Ranney (left) are served tacos by Tiospaye members and juniors Brittany Youpee and Aspen Ducheneaux at the Native American Cultural Center. Malachi Petersen / The Volante)