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Photo gallery: SMSC lights up Prior Lake High School with Native Pride

Adults and youth from the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community donned their full regalia for the annual Young Native Pride at Prior Lake High School on Thursday in front of a crowd of community members and other locals.

Now a 22-year-old event, the regular performance gives Mdewakanton children the chance to give a glimpse into the Dakota culture with traditional dance. After an opening prayer led by Dakota language teacher Danny Seaboy, teens and younger children broke into traditional, grass, fancy, jingle and shawl styles of dance.

Dancers also invited the public onto the stage for a dance after the performances.

“To me, Young Native Pride is and always will be about family and the future,” community Secretary Treasurer Rebecca Crooks-Stratton said. “Not only the future of the individuals on the stage but also the future of the Dakota way of life and cultural traditions.”

Crooks-Stratton said she is filled with hope and gratitude, “as well as an acute awareness of how quickly time passes,” watching the community’s young people perform.

“With the busy schedules so many of us lead today, it can be all too easy to lose sight of the big picture of what truly matters,” she said. “I’m honored to be able to share a little bit of our culture with you today.”

Soon after, a cyclone of color and thunderous sound began. Children and flagbearers swept the stage in several arcs before launching into a victory song. Even toddlers explored the limits of bodily motion, keeping pace with a cavalcade of drum and voice. Men’s and women’s groups alternated until the event ended with hoop and crowd dances.

The auditorium, filled with family, students and others, met the performance with a roaring applause.

An evening repeat performance featured an additional skit, “White Buffalo Calf Woman,” starring Jaelyn Crooks.

Mdewakanton Education Committee Chairperson Lance Crooks, Lance Crooks II and Peter Brewer planted the eagle staff, Mdewakanton flag and American flag respectively.

The 2019 Wacipi, or Pow Wow, is set for Aug. 16, 17 and 18 at the SMSC Wacipi Grounds, 3212 Dakotah Parkway in Savage. Performances will also take place Aug. 15 at the Mall of America rotunda.

Wacipi means “they all dance” in the Dakota language, according to the Mdewakanton community’s website. Such gatherings often celebrated the end of a good hunt or other positive events, but dance was also used to tell stories.

“Dance has always been an important part of our ancestors’ ceremonial practices,” the tribe states. “This is a time when Native Americans gather to meet old friends, make new ones, and honor those who have come before them. A time to gather, share, reflect and thank the Creator.”

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Prior Lake names Frazer new police chief

St. Paul Police Department Cmdr. Steven Frazer will be Prior Lake’s new police chief, the city announced Tuesday.

Frazer will oversee a department of several dozen employees and a budget of about $4.6 million, according to a news release from the city. City Manager Michael Plante made the decision after two finalists held interview panels with community stakeholders and police department staff.

“I am humbled to have been selected as the Prior Lake Chief of Police,” Frazer said in a written statement. “I cannot wait to make Prior Lake my home and place of work. “

Frazer has more than 27 years of police experience in various roles. He moved from serving as a peace officer in Roseville to serving as commander in St. Paul in 2006. He also served as chief deputy of the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office managing day-to-day operations.

Frazer said he plans to hear out stakeholders, including elected officials and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.

“I want to get an idea of (the community’s) overall vision and view and kind of their report card: How’s the PD doing? What are we doing right? What could we do better?” he said.

Frazer said he will spend his first 90 days determining the city’s priorities.

“There’s always room for improvement in any endeavor,” he said.

Prior Lake Cmdr. Brad Cragoe said the department will need a chief focused on developing the next generation of leaders, as several retirements may be coming up within the next four or five years.

“There’s a big age gap (between supervisors and patrol),” he said. “We need to get ready to step up and move people into those spots.”

Frazer will replace Don Gudmundson, who stepped in as interim chief earlier this year after interim Chief Booker Hodges accepted a state government position. Former Chief Mark Elliott’s resignation last year for undisclosed reasons set off the series of department leaders.

Frazer is scheduled to be sworn in May 20 during the regular City Council meeting.