The 46th Annual St. Joseph’s Indian School Wačhípi – Powwow – marks the return to a public powwow for the students for the first time since the onset of the pandemic. September 17 marks the long-awaited powwow comeback. Students have been hard at work practicing dance since their August 16 return to campus.
A royalty competition set the event in motion on Wednesday, September 7. The evening opened with prayer followed by the flag song performed by the school’s drum group, Pahá Makȟásaŋ Lowáŋpi – the Chalk Hills Singers. Five young women competed for Miss St. Joe’s, and seven for Junior Miss St. Joe’s. Two energetic young men vied for Eagle Staff Bearer. Contestants submitted written interview questions, introduced themselves in Lakota, demonstrated one dance and answered questions from staff judges.
This year’s Miss St. Joe’s is Sherrilynn, with runner-up Clarysia. Sherrilynn is a sophomore and Clarysia is a junior in the school’s High School Program.
Sherrilynn said she wanted to be Miss St. Joe’s to “push myself out of my comfort zone and represent a school filled with good vibes and positive energy.”
Jr. Miss St. Joe’s goes to Aleighya with runner-up Dallas. Both are in the fifth grade.
Aleigha said receiving the crown of Jr. Miss St. Joe’s makes her feel very good about herself.
“I want to show people who i really am and show them that I won’t give up,” she said.
Eagle Staff Bearer is Romeo, with runner-up Caden. Both are in the fifth grade.
Romeo shared similar feelings to the other royalty winners.
“I wanted to carry the Eagle Staff to represent St. Joe’s, my culture, my family and myself,” he said.
According to Native American Studies Lead LaRayne, it was a flat-out tie for Most Valuable Player between the exuberant crowd, the talented emcee Evan, the electrified drum group and the contestants, whose skilled dancing and Lakota language introductions shone brilliantly.
The powwow is free and open to the public with handicap accessibility. For more information and a complete schedule of events, contact St. Joseph’s Indian School at 605-234-3313 or visit stjo.org/powwow. If you cannot attend in person, follow postings and live updates virtually with St. Joseph’s Indian School on Facebook at www.stjo.org/facebook.
In case of rain, the powwow moves to the Chamberlain Armory, 202 E Kellam Ave., Chamberlain SD.