American Indian Awareness Week at BHSU will honor women

SPEARFISH, S.D. (KEVN) - The annual American Indian Awareness Week at Black Hills State University puts women front and center.

The BHSU student organization Lakota Omniciye will honor Native American culture Monday through April 12. There are daily speaker events as well as the 36th annual wacipi.

The theme for this year’s celebration “American Indian Women: The Backbone to Building Resilient Leaders.” Members of Lakota Omniciye selected the theme to honor of Native American women and the knowledge and wisdom they provide to local communities, according to junior K’Dyn Newbrough from Eagle Butte.

“Conversations will not be limited to Native American women’s issues alone, but will include all aspects that pertain to American Indian culture and history including women’s roles in our society,” Newbrough explained.

A series of speakers will present throughout the week to several American Indian Studies classes. All presentations are free and open to the community.

Speakers include:

April 8: Billi Jo Gravseth, “Turnaround Arts,” 9-9:50 a.m., Jonas 107
April 9: Jace DeCory, “Unci Maka Tells Her Story,” 11 a.m. – 12:15 p.m., Jonas 102
April 9: Lily Mendoza, “MMIW: Why Are Our Sisters Missing?” 12:30-1:45 p.m., Jonas 107
April 10: Molina Parker, “Customary Practices,: 9-9:50 a.m., Jonas 107
April 11: Kim Tilsen-Brave Heart, “Indigenous Entrepreneurship,” 11 a.m. - 12:15 p.m., Jonas 102
April 11: Tiarra Little, “Being a Good Relative: Sharing Processes in Creating Sustainable Community-Based, Community-Led Indigenous Schools,” 11 a.m.–12:15 p.m., Jonas 307
April 11: Beverly Warne, “The Life and Lessons of a Lakota Nurse,” 12:30-1:45 p.m., Jonas 107
April 12: Cecily Engelhart, “Indigenous Filmmaking and Arts Ecosystems,” 9–9:50 a.m., Jonas 107

“The importance of these discussions is to inform and raise awareness of Indigenous issues in Spearfish and surrounding communities,” Newbrough said.

The 36th annual wacipi (powwow) is one of the highlight events each year. Held the last two days of the BHSU American Indian Awareness Week, the powwow brings in a large crowd.

The wacipi session Friday, April 12 begins at 7 p.m. while the session Saturday, April 13 is at 1 p.m. Children under 5, seniors 55 and older, and students and staff at BHSU with an ID receive free admission to the wacipi. A day pass is $6 or weekend passes are available for $10.

There will be $8,000 available in dance prize money and the annual free buffalo feed during the Saturday session.