The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community is inviting the public to attend their annual Wacipi pow wow, Aug. 20-22.

The free weekend-long extravaganza will take place at the Wacipi Grounds in Shakopee and feature hundreds of Native American dancers and drum groups from around the country.

SMSC Vice-Chairman Cole Miller encourages the community to experience the unique culture and support the SMSC.

"The music that you're going to hear, the dancing that you're going to see — if you've never been to a Wacipi or pow wow, you will be blown away, it is amazing," said Miller. "The food and crafts are great. It's just a good time."

Miller said hundreds of Native American tribes from all over the United States, and even Canada, travel to the SMSC Wacipi pow wow to partake in the dance celebration.

"We've got a lot of different tribal nations that will be represented here this weekend, not just our own tribe. You'll see tribes from Minnesota all the way down to New Mexico, Arizona and other tribes as well as drum groups," said Miller. "We have Native Americans that travel from Canada and all over the United States to come to our Wacipi every year."

The family-friendly event will also include vendors of Native American crafts and foods, as well as fireworks at 10 p.m.

Face masks are recommended but not required to attend the event. Event organizers highly encourage those who are not vaccinated to wear face masks. 

"This year especially, we have our frontline employees and team members that we have to think about. We're trying to move forward with this event in a safe way considering the worldwide pandemic," said Miller. "We have certain protocols we're trying to put in place and hopefully anybody that comes can abide by that and understand why we're doing that. We have our Tribal Health and Wellness Department that is monitoring case counts and making sure we can have a safe event. We just want to make sure we're moving forward carefully and cautiously." 

A celebration of life

Wacipi means “they all dance” in the Dakota language. It was historically used by Indigenous peoples to gather at the end of a season, celebrate a good hunt or recognize a positive event.

According to the SMSC, the Wacipi, or pow wow, is a celebration of life. Native Americans gather for a cultural and social celebration of dancing, singing and visiting. This is a time when Native Americans gather to meet old friends, make new ones and honor those who have come before them. It is also a time to gather, share, reflect and thank the Creator.

While the dances still hold sacred meaning for those who participate, today’s SMSC Wacipi has evolved into a contest pow wow, where dancers dressed in colorful regalia and drum groups compete for top honors in a variety of style categories.

Miller said he thinks it's important for the community to be exposed to the Indigenous peoples whose ancestors have lived in the region near Shakopee and Prior Lake for centuries.

"I think it's important for the general public in Prior Lake, Shakopee, Savage and other areas to learn more about the tribe. Some don't realize we have a Native American community right here, right next door to us as a neighbor," said Miller. "I think it's important for people to come and experience the culture and see how beautiful it is."

Mall of America exhibition

The SMSC has another opportunity for spectators to experience their Wacipi if community members are unable to attend this weekend and for others to get a sneak peak and glimpse of this weekend's event. 

A whirl of colors, sights and sounds will fill the halls of the TCF Rotunda as it will be transformed into a pow wow arena, complete with a master of ceremonies and a drum group on Thursday, Aug. 19 with performances at 1, 3 and 5 p.m.

Native American dancers of all ages in full regalia will enter the arena to perform with live pow wow music.

Mall visitors will experience a Native American Grand Entry, learn about the various dance styles and have the opportunity to join the dancers and participate in the Intertribals and Round Dance.

A livestream will also be available of this year's Wacipi at www.facebook.com/shakopeepowwow

For more information visit www.facebook.com/MallofAmerica

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