Dancers represent culture, values at Black Hills Powwow
RAPID CITY, S.D. – Powwow dancing is more than a sport – it is intrinsic to Native American life.
The 32nd Annual Black Hills Powwow saw hundreds of dancers step into the center of the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center’s Don Barnett Arena on Saturday, where they spun, sung and stomped.
It’s an art form akin to life: the drum, a heartbeat; and dancers, the heart.
Juniors, teens and adults competed in their respective categories, hoping to end the night with some sort of recognition for their abilities.
However, for many, powwow dancing isn’t about the awards. It’s simply a part of who they are.
Lakota powwow dancer Rayden Bullhead listed some of the values of the traditional powwow dance.
“Respect, honor, dignity,” Bullhead said. “It shows how your tradition goes.”
For some, it’s about the energy on the stage.
Dancer Tony Wahweotten felt the energy that day, saying “you have to come here to feel the energy, and this is the only place you can feel it.”
Meanwhile, junior dancer Pamola Ruiz participated alongside her brother and sister. She said that she was both anxious and excited to dance.
“Sometimes, I feel like I do have a spotlight on me,” Ruiz said. “At the same time, why it’s fun is that I can see most of my friends here.”
It’s a spiritual sensation that livens the spirit of everyone in the room – even those that can’t dance.
Bullhead described the energy in the room as a force everyone can feel and added that “when you get out there, you just feel like you’re free or something, so you just bust out some moves.”
Others donned their regalia to represent their values and beliefs.
Selma Ruiz enjoyed representing her Native American roots at the powwow.
“We showcase our stuff, and it’s pretty fun to show people our culture and our ways,” Selma said.
In the end, each dancer is attuned with the rituals and ceremonies of their ancestors the second they step onto the dance floor.
“We’re born into it, kind of – like, you’re raised into it, and it’s a lot of fun,” Selma finished.