Shakopee, MN – Each year in August hundreds of dancers of all ages from across Indian Country gather at one of the largest Pow Wow’s in the nation: the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Annual Wacipi, more commonly known as the Shakopee Pow Wow. Held over the weekend of August 19-21, 2011, the event features live music from 12 invited drums who sing songs throughout the dance sessions. The Wacipi is open to the public.
There are many types of dancing, with categories divided by age and gender. The Shakopee Wacipi is a competition pow wow, with dancers in each category judged based on the various requirements of each dance style. Each dance style involves specific regalia. Every style of regalia has its unique look, though the individual elements will differ based on each dancer’s personal taste, tribal customs, and available resources. Each dancer creates his or her own regalia through many hours of hard work with each component having personal significance. Often items are passed from one generation to the next or gifted to friends or relatives. Some items may be very, very old. Regalia may also be referred to as an outfit, but never a costume, which would have negative connotations.
Male Traditional dancers are characterized by a back bustle made of eagle or hawk feathers, ankle bells, a breechcloth, choker, a wapecha (a feathered porcupine headdress), leggings, and moccasins. Dance movements include active head movements re-enacting warriors searching the ground for tracks of enemy or prey. Southern Straight is a regional variation with no bustle and a straighter dance style.
Female Traditional dancers wear buckskin or cloth ankle-length dresses and carry a long-fringed shawl, fan, bag, or scarf. Dance movements are dignified and graceful and characterized by swaying of fringe. Northern dancers usually wear a fully-beaded yoke or cape and are largely stationary. Southern Buckskin/Cloth is a regional variation where dancers may wear a dress completely made of buckskin or cloth and make their way slowly around the arena while dancing.
Fancy Feather dancers are men and boys who perform fast, intricate movements, such as twisting, leaping, twirling, splits, footwork, and acrobatics. Their regalia is usually bright, colorful, and elaborate and includes two large bustles on their backs.
Fancy Shawl dancers are women and girls who usually wear bright, colorful, elaborate regalia with a calf-length skirt and a long, fringed shawl worn over the shoulders and held slightly out at the elbows. Movements include fine footwork, and fast spins, meant to mimic a joyful butterfly.
Grass Dancers are men and boys who represent the flow of prairie grass in the wind by rocking, shaking, and swaying while their feet slide and hop. Long, flowing fringe or ribbons on their regalia represent the grass.
Jingle Dress dancers are women and girls who wear cloth dresses usually with 365 tin cones in a line or chevron pattern in rows. Their dance movements include a straight posture, an up and down motion and hopping or rocking with the feet moving in a rhythmic pattern.
Golden Age dancers are elders sixty and older. They may participate in their category as well as the Golden Age category. Men and women are judged separately. Elders are held in high esteem in the Dakota culture. Dancers who are elders are especially looked after and served first at mealtime.
Tiny Tots are children aged five and under in regalia who dance, either by themselves or with a parent, older sibling, or relative. They are each given a small gift, such as a piece of candy or money, after participating.
This year the annual Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Wacipi will be held Friday through Sunday, August 19, 20, and 21, 2011, at the Pow Wow Grounds on the SMSC reservation. The SMSC Pow Wow Grounds are located just north of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel at 3212 Dakotah Parkway, Prior Lake, Minnesota 55372.
Admission, which is $5 for the entire weekend, includes an evening meal on Saturday and lunch on Sunday both catered by Mystic Lake Casino Hotel as well as a commemorative button and Pow Wow Program. Admission is free to elders 60 and older and children 10 and under. Parking is free.
Grand Entries will be held at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, 1:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, and 1:00 p.m. on Sunday. Fireworks will be held at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 20, 2011, at the Pow Wow Grounds, and a church service will be held on Sunday, August 21, 2011, at 10:00 a.m. at nearby Tiowakan Spiritual Center. Flag raising will be held at 9:00 a.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
For more information about the Wacipi, call the Shakopee Pow Wow Information Line at 952-392-8964 or go to www.shakopeedakota.org. The SMSC Pow Wow is also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shakopeepowwow. 2011 vendor slots are full. For information on 2012 vendor applications, call 952-496-6176 after January 2, 2012.
About the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, a federally recognized Indian Tribe in Minnesota, is the owner and operator of Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Little Six Casino, Mazopiya, Playworks, Dakotah! Sport and Fitness, The Meadows at Mystic Lake, and other enterprises on a reservation south of the Twin Cities.