Deon and Rose Red Dog wanted to give people something to do during the holiday, and what better way than to host a Christmas powwow called the Old Agency Christmas Wacipi located on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation.
“When the kids go on winter vacation and there is hardly anything for them to do,” said Deon Red Dog, Old Agency Wacipi Committee chairman. “The pow wow gives people a chance to get together with their families watch a powwow and have a good time.”
The pow wow will be held on December 23, 24 and 25 at the Cheyenne Eagle Butte High School Gym in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. This will be the second year the Christmas pow wow will be held and admission is free.
The pow wow will not only have dancing but a free Christmas dinner. All the food for the dinner is donated by the pow wow committee, their families and volunteers. Joe Lafferty, Old Agency Wacipi representative and arena director said last year everyone had plenty of “Wateca,” which mean leftovers, after the dinner.
“I think the pow wow is one of the best things to happen in our community,” said Lafferty. “There are a lot of individuals and community members who have helped out who don’t expect anything in return.”
On top of the dinner the Old Agency Wacipi committee gives out presents. Last year, the National Indian Welfare Association and Parson Furniture Store donated money towards buying gifts. Also, the Oglala Lakota College donated four 19 inch TVs which the committee had a drawing for and various families donated candy bags for everyone.
“I am pretty excited about this year’s pow wow since it takes a year to plan,” said Red Dog.
Red Dog, along with the Old Agency Wacipi Committee, has spent all year fundraising for the pow wow. The committee had lunch sales twice a month, held games of traditional bingo, had raffle ticket sales and an appliance game where people could win items such as a laptop, iPod and recliner.
The committee also gives individuals, groups and businesses the opportunity to sponsor dance categories and/or individual dancers. For example, the Men’s Grass Dance is sponsored by the Wakinyan Peta Family and the Santa Claus Dance Committee is sponsored by the Old Agency Wacipi Committee.
Red Dog said he has received a lot of positive feedback about the pow wow from elders and community members. He added that the elders were happy that the Old Agency Wacipi Committee put the Christmas pow wow together.
Lafferty is also happy that he could help and be part of the pow wow. He said it is his way of giving something positive back to his community.
“Like every reservation there is a lot of alcoholism that goes along with the holiday season,” said Lafferty. “We have organized an event that gives people a reason to come out of their home and a place to go, a sober place.”
Red Dog and Lafferty are expecting a big turnout of dancers and spectators this year. Red Dog said since everything is in place for the pow wow it is just a matter of waiting for the pow wow to happen and people to show up.
“The pow wow has been a tremendous success from the get go and we are just hoping to achieve that again this year,” said Lafferty.