Powwow preparations begin as soon as the first bell of the school year rings in early August.
A seasoned team of employees goes to work at once planning everything from start to finish like a well-oiled machine. At 40-some years into the event, planning and coordination are well-rehearsed and run smoothly.
Getting the students prepared – that’s a little trickier but surely more exciting. More than 100 students commit to the dance group much as they would to a team sport. Nearly 10 hours of group practices take place during the five weeks leading up to wačhípi, and students practice at home and school, too. Once they demonstrate commitment to the dance group, they choose an outfit for their specific style of dance from St. Joseph’s beautiful collection of regalia.
Drummers make a commitment as well, and practice up to 20 hours during the same time period. The drum group continues to practice throughout the year and performs at ceremonies, honoring, Lakota Mass, prayer services and monthly dance nights at the Rec Center, which are open to everyone. St. Joseph’s Indian School’s drum group is called the Chalk Hills Singers – Pahá Makȟásaŋ Lowáŋpi – after the land directly north of the school in Chamberlain, S.D.