VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) – November is Native American Heritage Month, but the traditions and cultures of America’s Indigenous people are honored and taught year-round in South Dakota’s nine tribes.
A popular way they do that is through pow wows or Wacipis. These events feature different styles of dancing as well as drumming and singing.
“My mind actually goes blank when I’m dancing,” Max Sevier, a fancy dancer, said. “I’m in a moment of peace in myself and there have been times where I’ve been really nervous right before I dance and a lot’s been going through my mind and as soon as that drum starts, I’m at peace, I’m doing what I love.”
Sevier, a 21-year-old fancy dancer from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, has been dancing since he was two years old.
“My parents really got me into dancing because that’s what my dad and all my siblings did,” he said.
19 years of dancing, including 17 of competing at pow wows across the region.
“The fancy dance, it takes a lot of agility and speed and that’s just something that I like about it, it keeps me healthy and in shape,” Sevier said. “But just dancing for those who can’t, dancing for other people in communities and seeing the crowd reaction of when I dance and the good feelings I get, that’s one of the most prized things to me about dancing.”
Sevier has also gone viral on Tik Tok by fancy dancing to today’s pop music both in and out of his regalia.
“Men’s fancy, it’s a more modern dance, it was started by the Ponca Tribe in Oklahoma,” Sevier said. “But it’s more of a show for the crowd. There’s not a lot of ceremony or reason behind it. It started out as like a war dance and over time, through the Wild Bill West shows, it’s turned into a show for the crowd and a crowd pleaser.”
Whether on Tik Tok or at a pow wow, Sevier wants everyone to experience the tradition.
“Experience the Lakota people culture or just Native culture in general, that’s the biggest thing I think people should take away from it,” he said.
A traditional culture still thriving today.
“We’re still here. We’re not a group of people who have died off in history books,” Sevier said. “That’s the one thing I really didn’t like about growing up and learning about Natives in school is that it’s mainly taught in a way of ‘these people aren’t still existing. We’re still here. We’re resilient and this is our land.”