American Indian Awareness Week Kicks Off
American Indian Awareness week kicks off from April 7 – 13 at Black Hills State University. This year marks the 31st annual Lakota Omniciye Wacipi at BHSU. Lakota Omniciye is the group on campus dedicated to unique need of American Indian Students. They seek out to develop and augment the system at BHSU. This event is held to every year to educate the public on American Indian culture. Each year many different speakers and events are put on for the student body, faculty and public to attend and learn more.
This year’s Wacipi will be one for the books. The theme for this year is “The Earth is Sacred; Honor Our Mother.”
Victoria Sprague, event coordinator, said, “The theme and awareness week will focus on environmental concerns as well as water rights and issues surrounding and affecting Native American communities. The speakers for American Indian Awareness week will be incorporating different aspects of the theme into their presentations.”
A couple of speakers include Rosalie Little Thunder and Jerome Kills Small. Little Thunder is a Lakota linguist, educator and activist. Kills Small is an Oglala Lakota from Porcupine, South Dakota, on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Each day different guests are speaking in different areas of BHSU.
Sprague said “Some will be speaking directly about environmental issues like the Keystone XL pipeline while others will speak directly on behalf of American Indian traditions and values.”
They will be discussing subjects like “Harvesting and the use of foods and medicines in the Siouan Homelands” and “Red Alert! Saving the Planet with Indigenous Knowledge.” The week will end with the Pow-Wow at the Donald E. Young center at BHSU.
“Every year we have a theme for the week and this year its on the earth and environment. The motto of the week is ‘Earth is Sacred; Honor our Mother.’ It’s just talking about environmental issues and bringing awareness to that,” said Mary Mitchell, president of the Lakota Omniciye Club at BHSU. “I think it’s really interesting because a lot of them don’t really know a lot about it and it’s an eye opener for them.”
Sprague said “The overall goal of American Indian Awareness week is to bring awareness of these topics concerning Native Americans and Native American communities to the students, faculty and staff members of BHSU as well as the Spearfish community.”
Both Mitchel and Sprague commented on if students had one event to see during the week.
“We would encourage the students to go to all events this week but if they had to choose just one I would encourage them to attend the pow wow to get a first hand appreciation of American Indian culture,” Sprague said.
“All the speakers are really nice, so it’s more of what their interest is. Each speaker has a specialty. But if you could pick one the pow wow, because there are a lot of people and a lot of dancers. If you’ve never seen that before it’s really cool to see,” Mitchel said.
With the 31st Lakota Omniciye Wacipi and American Indian Awareness Week having tons to offer for anyone, it’s sure to be a hit as always at Black Hills State University. The Lakota Omniciye has brought in some phenomenal speakers and as always the pow wow will be a great event for anyone to attend to learn a little more about American Indians.