Native American culture in the spotlight at Washington High School

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Monday is Native Americans’ Day in South Dakota.

The Sioux Falls School District won’t be having classes Monday in observance of the holiday. But students and staff aren’t waiting until next week to highlight Native American culture.

Washington High School freshman Rosalia Szameit started experiencing pow wows as a baby.

“I’ve been dancing for my whole life and my mom makes all my dresses,” WHS freshman Rosalia Szameit said.

On Friday, she and other Native American students shared some of their traditions with the student body.

The three girls performed jingle dress dances, which Szameit explains is a medicine dance, and fancy shawl dances.

“It’s a resemblance of a symbol for a butterfly to express yourself because us Native Americans never got to express ourselves ever since colonists came to America,” WHS sophomore Winona Ochalla said.

The dances aren’t the only ways Native American culture and history are being highlighted at Washington High School.

A tipi was put up Friday morning, and staff and students have been taking part in activities throughout the week.

“It’s important to my students to honor those leaders, elders that we’ve had in the past, those that have gone before us to pave the way so to speak, that leveled the path out so these kids can be where they’re at today and they’ve got more possibilities, they’ve got more opportunities than ever before if they want to go after it,” WHS teacher Bruce Rekstad said.

“We need to show everyone all the different things we have in our culture and educate people more because a lot of people, they don’t know anything about anything,” Szameit said.

But by sharing their culture, they’re not only honoring their ancestors, but people are learning.

The 2021 Native American Day Parade in Sioux Falls has been cancelled by the organizers this year due to high rates of COVID-19.

Click here for more ways to observe South Dakota’s Native Americans’ Day.

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