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Youth pow wow and handgames event honors Lakota history

January 05, 2021

Youth pow wow and handgames event honors Lakota history

The Crazy Horse School gymnasium and cafeteria rumbled with activity last week for the Teca Wacipi Okolakiciye and Tasunke Witko Owayawa (Pow-Wow and Handgames).

The school is located in Wanblee, SD, a town on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and is about 45 minutes away from our headquarters. Children of all ages participated in the event which encourages youth to honor their Lakota history. The sound of strong voices, drums, dancers' footsteps and the clinking of jingle dresses filled every part of the building.



Lamya Blue Bird, Little Wound School





Shawntay Iron Horse, Rockyford School




Fallen Sorbel, Bennett County Junior High


Each piece of a dancer's regalia is unique to the wearer and his or her performance. This includes the type of material used, the beadwork and the headpieces. For example, Tyrell Jumping Eagle's favorite cartoon is Thomas the Tank Engine and his aunt made his entire outfit Thomas-themed -- all the way to his hand-beaded moccasins.





Handgames, another integral part of a traditional pow wow, is a guessing game where the objective is to be the team with the most sticks. Will Peters, a sponsor for Pine Ridge High School Handgames Team, explained the history of handgames which is featured in the video at the top of the page.



Handgame participants hide their game pieces for the opposing team to guess which hand they have them.


The games were created to be a way to resolve disputes among tribal leaders, Peters said. In today's times, they are often used as an activity for Lakota youth to have a favorable social experience.

"It teaches them to positively interact. And to just have fun," Peters said. "And to learn the songs, learn the different elements of respect and in that way it helps a part of the culture continue."

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