Tiospaye Celebrates 50th Wacipi This Weekend
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Tiospaye Celebrates 50th Wacipi This Weekend

     This weekend, Tiospaye Student Council will host its 50th annual Wacipi, a cultural celebration of tribal traditions for both students and alumni. 

      Anna Harlan, co-president of Tiospaye Student Council and member of the Omaha tribe, said the student council has taken an interest in extending invitations to the community.

     “Everybody is invited. We’ve partnered with the Vermillion Human Relations Commission to bridge the gap between the Vermillion community and campus life, between non-Native and Native people,” Harlan said.

     For those interested, Harlem encourages all to see and experience Native culture in ways they haven’t before.

     “When you step into the Wacipi, you’ll hear the drums and feel it throughout your body. Music is a healing power for us, we’re not only celebrating, but we’re reuniting and coming together to honor our elders,” Harlan said.

     Coyote alumni and their families come together to support this event. Tiospaye Student Council alumnus and current USD graduate student Collette Bowman shared that Wacipi is one of many reasons why she felt supported in college.

     “There is such a blend of different cultures [at the Wacipi]. There are over 572 recognized tribes in the United States,” Bowman said. “Even though, at Wacipis, family groups come together with similar dances and regalia.” 

     Bowman is a member of the Oglala Lakota and Hunkpapa tribes.

     “There is always one underlying thing that connects us, no matter where we go,” Bowman said.

     Bowman and Harlan both recommend visiting during the Grand Entry.

     “Even if you’re not Native [American], the Wacipi is such a beautiful thing to see,” Bowman said. 

     “The Grand Entry is when the council and Powwow royalty come, too. You have kids who are three or four, dancing with their parents. You have elders dancing with their regalia,” Bowman said.

     “There is nothing like it in Western culture. It is a big celebration of Indigenous culture,” Bowman said.

     Tiospaye’s historical roots touch across South Dakota, according to Harlan. 

     “On the weekend after I was elected, I was at a casino near my home wearing a USD sweatshirt and a woman stopped me and asked if I was a student… it turned out that she was an original member of Tiospaye, it was just so crazy the way I met her,” Harlan said.

     Tiospaye member Laura Red Cloud says the Wacipi is also a celebration of education. 

    “It’s very important because it brings people together and helps us understand that our education and our achievements are very cool,” Red Cloud said. 

    Wacipi brings together a variety of tribes and their traditions. 

     “It’s good that USD is helping us recognize our culture and making sure that we get to represent who we are too, because there’s a lot of different cultures and we want to include everybody, because we’re not all different, we all connect in some way,” Red Cloud said. 

    USD’s Wacipi is slated to begin with their Grand Entry at 1 and 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 6.