Public Wačhípi Returns to St. Joseph’s Indian School

Posted on: September 1, 2022

Some 90 students are practicing to dance in beautiful Native American regalia on Saturday, September 17, 2022, at the 46th Annual St. Joseph’s Indian School wačhípi (powwow) in Chamberlain, S.D. For the first time since 2019, the event will be open to students, families, extended families, donors and visitors.

St. Joseph’s students have enjoyed traditional dance on campus since the 1950s when Brother Mathias made sure that it was part of celebrations and even took students touring as far away as Notre Dame to share the cultural tradition. The school began a public, traditional children’s wačhípi in 1976 to celebrate connections to tradition, spirituality, Uŋčí Makȟa (Grandmother Earth) and one another. It is a social, personal and spiritual event.

The students take pride and joy in being able to express themselves through traditional Lakota songs and dance. In a royalty competition on September 7, both boys and girls will perform a dance demonstration to display their talents and knowledge of their culture. “When I dance in regalia, I feel so much confidence. It brings me so much joy to dance for my people. It makes my soul happy,” said one student on her royalty application.

On Friday, September 16, cultural activities start in the morning at the Aktá Lakota Museum & Cultural Center and Rec Center. The dedication of the school’s new Equine Therapy Barn is at noon. A cultural performance at the Rec Center happens at 3:30 p.m. Visitors can tour the school and campus. Also, they can visit the homes and Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel on Saturday morning. The wačhípi begins with a blessing of the powwow grounds. Grand entry and powwow start at 12 noon sharp, and Mass is at 5:00 p.m. with a complimentary meal to follow.

The powwow is free and open to the public with handicap accessibility. For more information and a complete schedule of events, please contact St. Joseph’s Indian School at 605-234-3313 or visit If you are unable to attend in-person, follow postings and live-updates virtually with St. Joseph’s Indian School on Facebook at

In case of rain, the powwow moves to the Chamberlain Armory.