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Blanketed in a thick fog under overcast skies, the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community (SMSC) Wacipi Grounds held an almost otherworldly appearance on the Saturday morning of Wacipi weekend, as attendees gathered in the grassy arena for the day’s flag-raising ceremony. As members of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Kit Fox Society and the Native American Women Warriors raised the American, Canadian, and SMSC flags, the sun broke strongly through the mist as if in recognition of the gathering taking place below. It was a poignant start to a day that would draw record crowds, especially after weather conditions moved Friday’s events indoors.

Thousands of dancers and spectators traveled from places near and far to dance, visit, eat, and honor Native American culture throughout the three-day event. With the drums serving as a constant heartbeat, the arena was alive with color, energy, and motion, as dancers competed for top honors in a variety of categories.

Dozens of food and craft vendors displayed their offerings of handmade jewelry, blankets, Indian tacos, frybread, and more, while visitors leisurely browsed and caught up with family and friends, both old and new. As the sun began to set on Sunday, the bright skies and balmy weather seemed to offer a final tip of the hat to the weekend’s gathering, leaving everyone with a warm embrace as they bid their farewells.

Mall visitors and spectators watched with interest as dancers in brightly colored regalia lined up for Grand Entry in the Mall of America Rotunda on Thursday, August 17, just prior to Wacipi weekend. The exhibition included two separate Grand Entries with the dancers entering the Rotunda by dance category. Each Grand Entry was led by the Sisseton-Wahpeton Kit Fox Society and the Native American Women Warriors.

Master of Ceremonies Juaquin Hamilton (Sac and Fox Nation) provided commentary during the exhibition, as well as tidbits of Dakota history and culture. Drum groups The Wild Band of Comanches (Oklahoma) and The Boyz (Minnesota) sang traditional songs specific to each style of dance. The rhythmic drumming combined with jingling bells echoed through the air, and the ground vibrated beneath the dancers’ feet. The exhibition of dancers from the SMSC and other Native tribes from throughout the United States served as a special preview of the annual SMSC Wacipi, which began the following day.

Visitors were treated between Grand Entries to a special performance by The Sampson Bros., who dazzled the crowd with their Native American hoop dance skills. Samsoche and Micco Sampson are brothers and Indigenous artists who travel the world promoting cultural pride, unity, and hope through song and dance. Mall goers were also able to view artifacts and a traditional Dakota tipi on display in the Sears Court of Mall of America during the exhibition.

Featured Staff & Guests

Head Staff:

Master of Ceremonies: Juaquin Hamilton, Ruben Little Head
Honorary Master of Ceremonies: 
Wallace Coffey
Arena Director:
 Chaske LaBlanc, Clifton Goodwill
Head Women’s Judge: 
Alva Fiddler
Head Men’s Judge:
 Canku One Star
Head Singing Judge:
 Rooster Top Sky
 Dale Roberts, Hokah Sound
Color Guard:
 Sisseton-Wahpeton Kit Fox Society, Native American Women Warriors (N.A.W.W.)

Drum Groups:

Host: Northern Cree (Alberta), The Boyz (Minnesota)
Midnite Express, Young Bear, Sharpshooter, Southern Style, Yellow Hammer, The Wild Band of Comanches, High Noon, Show Time, Mato Pejuta, Bull Horn

Dance Contests

Jr. Categories, 6–12:
Traditional, Grass/Jingle, Fancy

1st: $300, 2nd: $200, 3rd: $150, 4th: $100, 5th: $50

Teen Categories, 13–17:
Traditional, Grass/Jingle, Fancy
1st: $500, 2nd: $300, 3rd: $200, 4th: $150, 5th: $100

Adult Categories:
Men: Traditional, Fancy, Grass, Southern Straight, Chicken Dance
Women: Traditional, Fancy, Jingle, Southern Buckskin/Cloth (combined)

Jr., 18–34: 1st: $1,600, 2nd: $1,400, 3rd: $1,200, 4th: $1,000, 5th: $600
Sr., 35–54: 1st: $1,600, 2nd: $1,400, 3rd: $1,200, 4th: $1,000, 5th: $600

Golden Age, 55–64:
Men: Traditional/Southern Straight (combined), Fancy/Grass (combined)
Women: Traditional, Southern Buckskin/Cloth (combined), Fancy/Jingle (combined)
1st: $1,600, 2nd: $1,400, 3rd: $1,200, 4th: $1,000, 5th: $600

Elders, 65+:
Men: All Categories
Women: All Categories
1st: $1,600, 2nd: $1,400, 3rd: $1,200, 4th: $1,000, 5th: $600

SMSC Royalty

Sage Crooks, Junior Princess
Sara Coulter, Princess
Lance “Little Boy” Crooks, Brave
Albert Borger
, Junior Brave