Day 58 – The Yankton Sioux Pow Wow

My timing for traveling through Wagner yesterday couldn’t have been more perfect. I arrived before the storm, AND, a Pow-Wow was scheduled over the weekend. The Pow-Wow is a 3-day event where tribes from around the country come to compete in dancing, drum splits and drum singing. Absolutely amazing!

After showering and getting cleaned up, I went down to the grill/lounge to see what was happening. The lobby and halls were filled with Indians wearing their ceremonial clothing. The pride and history from the people was almost overwhelming. Soon their would be a large firework display and drum singing contest…I couldn’t wait!

While waiting, I started a conversation with Dennis Walloch. Dennis is from Tabor and just happened to know everybody that I met the day before in Tyndall. Like my friends from yesterday; when Dennis found out about my walk, he told me my money was no longer good. I found myself the recipient of many drinks and good conversation with Dennis.

Dennis has lived in the area his entire life. For 32 years Dennis has been a farm equipment mechanic in the area. He recently sold his business to a local man and plans to travel in the near future. His wife will be a travelling nurse, which will allow them to get out and see the country. I had so many questions about local farming, I could have kept Dennis busy all evening. I also knew that if I kept Dennis there, he would have had me drunk as a skunk before the night was through. Time to go and see the drum singing. 🙂

I’m not going to pretend to know a lot about Indian tradition. Having lived in Billings and Missoula, Montana I was exposed to the culture. Especially in the Billings area with the Crow reservation close by. South Dakota is Sioux Territory. The people have a long proud history in the area. They are known to have always maintained peaceful relations with early French explorers, followed by Lewis & Clark.

 To give you an idea of what the evening was like, I recorded several videos of the Pow-Wow. There is good video of the fireworks, but the Pow-Wow is mostly singing during the evening. Please take the time to go to my Youtube site to listen to the singing (click here).  There was about 13 drum singers performing. This was dwarfed by the hundreds of people who surrounded the group (me) and sang with them the entire time. At the same time of the singing, an AWESOME fireworks display lasted for about 45 minutes.

I am a very lucky guy to have had a chance to experience this so close up! Being the only white guy amongst them, it would have been easy to feel like an outsider. The truth, at that moment, is that I couldn’t have felt closer to them and their culture!

So I just spent most of Day 58’s blog writing about the evening of Day 57. There is a reason for that, it’s because I didn’t walk today. As you have heard me whine about many times, my knee wasn’t feeling it and I needed to re-charge. The re-charge moments seem to be coming more frequently. I was hoping to update the blog before heading towards Winner, SD the next couple of days. Unfortunately, cell phone and internet out here is non-existent. I have no doubt that the parents are freaking out a bit right now…

During the day I was able to attend the last of the Pow-Wow today. All the tribes got together for the final ceremony and sang/danced together. Very cool!  Again, please go to my Youtube site and watch the videos. One of the last videos should be of the final day, where all the tribes got together to dance. Absolutely something that everybody should get a chance to observe at some point in their life!

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