Black Hills State University has the highest percentage of Native American students of all universities in South Dakota, according to Urla Marcus, director of BHSU’s Center for American Indian Studies.
Today starts the school’s week-long focus on Native culture which will feature speakers, a hand drum and singing competition and a three-day powwow.
American Indian Awareness Week is organized by the school’s Center for American Indian Studies and the student organization Lakota Omniciye.
“We really try to have our students spearhead the whole project,” Marcus told the Rapid City Journal. “What they really enjoy is that they get to do something they’re familiar with while they’re away from their home community. It’s something that they get to share with the community here, their classmates, the faculty.”
The week starts off today with Phillip Whiteman Jr., a Northern Cheyenne storyteller, horse trainer, champion grass dancer and rodeo champion, who will present Respect for Diversity and Cultural Humility (more than Integrity) from 9:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. and again from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Other speakers include Heather Dawn Thompson, a Cheyenne River Sioux lawyer, Donald Montileaux, an Oglala Lakota artist and illustrator, J.R. LaPlante, a citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and state of South Dakota Secretary of Tribal Relations, among others.
Aside from speakers, there will also be a Kevin Whirlwind Horse Memorial Walk/Run, a Free Buffalo Feed and the Miss and Jr. Miss Lakota Omniciye Wacipi Contest.
The 29th Annual Lakota Omniciye Wacipi “Mending the Sacred Hoop: A Circle of Unity” powwow will be held Friday, April 13 through Sunday, April 15. Total prize money available is $8,000.
All events are open to the public. For a full schedule of American Indian Awareness Week events, visit the Center for American Indian Studies website.
Check out the Teen Girl’s Fancy Dance from the 2011 event:
And the hand drum contest 2011 champions: