Join the People's Dance

No other event captures the American Indian spirit like the powwow or "wacipi." Dancers in colorful dress move gracefully around the ring, a steady drum beat directing their movements. Tradition is passed from one generation to the next.

Today's powwows often feature competitions in categories such as traditional, fancy, grass, shawl, and jingle-dress dancing. Entrants wear different styles of clothing according to the dance. While a fancy dancer dons bustles and beads, a shawl dancer wears a long-fringed shawl over an elaborately beaded dress, moccasins, and leggings.

Powwows present a great opportunity for non-Indians to learn about the culture, and most are open to the public. They can last anywhere from a few hours to several days, and frequently include craft displays, rodeos, and cultural exhibits. You might also get a taste of ethnic food such as the popular Indian taco, Indian fry bread, or "wojapi," a fruit pudding.

A steady drumbeat directs the dancers' movements.

Powwow Etiquette

As a powwow spectator, you'll want to be respectful of the unique customs you'll witness. Here are a few tips:

It's generally acceptable to take pictures or video, but check beforehand.

Ask permission before taking someone's photo outside of the dance circle.

Stand at the "Grand Entry" to pay respect to the dancers. Remain standing for the Great Sioux Nation's national anthem.

The dance area is sacred; don't enter it unless invited. (There are often "intertribal" dances in which the master of ceremonies invites spectators to join in the dancing.)

Many powwows don't have seating. Bring along a lawn chair of blanket, and make yourself comfortable!

The summer powwow circuit draws dancers from across the state.

Powwow Schedule

Below is a list of major powwows that occur annually throughout the state. Please call ahead to verify time and location.

Annual Sisseton-Wahpeton Wacipi

Agency Village, near Sisseton

Fourth of July holiday (605) 698-3911

Bear Soldier Powwow


Fourth of July holiday (701) 854-7202

Annual Black Hills Powwow and Indian Art Market

Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, Rapid City

Second weekend in July (605) 341-0925

Flandreau Santee Sioux Powwow


Third weekend in July (605) 997-3891

Fort Randall Powwow

Lake Andes

First full weekend in August (605) 384-3641

Oglala Nation Powwow and Rodeo

Pine Ridge

First full weekend in August (605) 867-5821

Lower Brule Powwow

Lower Brule

Second weekend in August (605) 473-5561

Crow Creek Sioux Tribe Annual Powwow

Fort Thompson

Third weekend of August (605) 245-2221

Annual Rosebud Fair & Rodeo


Fourth weekend in August (605) 856-2625

Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Annual Fair, Rodeo, and Powwow

Eagle Butte

Labor Day weekend (605) 964-4000

Great Plains Powwow

Sioux Falls Coliseum

Second weekend in October (in conjunction with

Native American Day) (605) 339-7039