Powwow Royalty Selected at St. Joseph’s Indian School

Posted on: September 7, 2023

The 47th Annual St. Joseph’s Indian School Wačhípi is September 16. Students have been hard at work practicing dance and drum group since their August 13 return to campus.

As is the tradition, a royalty competition set the event in motion on Wednesday, September 6. The evening opened with prayer led by Chaplain Greg Schill, SCJ, who acknowledged the competing students for their courage to participate. Next, the school’s drum group, Pahá Makȟásaŋ Lowáŋpi – the Chalk Hills Singers – performed the flag song. Three young women competed for Miss St. Joe’s, and nine for Junior Miss St. Joe’s. One young man presented himself 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 Clarysia Cooke, a traditional dancer, with runner-up Rylee Bagola, who has been a fancy dancer since the fourth grade. Clarysia is a senior in the school’s High School Program, and Rylee is in the eighth grade. This was Clarysia’s fifth time before the judges. “I don’t give up on something I want until I get it. I want to be Miss St. Joe’s to show others to never give up on something you want,” she said.

Jr. Miss St. Joe’s goes to Persais Swift Hawk, a sixth grader and fancy dancer with impressive footwork, who said, “I am myself when I speak Dakota.” Runner-up is classmate Jamisha Medicine Crow, a jingle dancer. Eagle Staff Bearer is Caden Lopez, a sixth grader.

The crowd of students, teachers and houseparents enjoyed a moment of levity when Angel Stead, a fourth-grade fancy dancer and competitor for Jr. Miss St. Joe’s, spoke frankly about her aspirations for winning the title. “I want to win first place at all the powwows and get prize money.”

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.