Festive music played and dances performed as Black Hills Powwow starts

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The 31st Annual Black Hills Powwow started Friday with the Youth Day Symposium. Jon Wilson takes you to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center for the festivities.

Powwow Dancer Canku One Star says, "You never know what anyone's going through, and so for students and staff around the Rapid City Area Schools to come here and watch us perform, although they might not have a clue about our culture or our way of life, dancing for them and just to put a smile on their face, and just to make them feel good, even if it's for a split second. That's our motive."

Thousands of students along with hundreds of performers all came together Friday morning, as the Black Hills Powwow got underway.

Black Hills Powwow Association Board President Stephen Yellow Hawk says, "It being its 31st year brings an opportunity to build bridges, to showcase culture, to encourage, to help people have an open mind. We have a beautiful community that is made up of many people from around the world, around the country, and it's an awesome city to host."

Over 1000 dancers and more than 30 drum groups from around the nation are expected to attend over the weekend.

Powwow Dancer Carlos Benally says, "Every year I try to go, and when I don't I feel sad. It's just a wonderful event, and they play good songs. You could dance, you could meet new friends, see old friends too."

Every outfit means something to these dancers and to their culture. Benally's feathers represent the eagle.

Benally says, "We pray to the eagle because that's the one that flies closer to god, and so we use the eagle feathers and we use smoke too because it goes closer to god and he could hear our prayers more. So we use the eagle feathers, and when we dance, we pray too. We pray for our loved ones to get healed, to everybody that is watching us to have a good feeling inside when we're dancing too so we can spread our positive vibes."

One Star's represents a warrior.

One Star says, "Some of the agility movements and some of the aerobic movements that we perform is to almost symbolize how our warriors would fight in battle."

All in an effort for more understanding of the culture, and to put a smile on the faces of those in the crowd.

Benally says, "That's what I mainly just want to do is just show my culture and get everybody feeling good, and making their day a lot better."