CHAMBERLAIN, S.D. (KELO) — A ceremony meant to honor and empower future leaders happened Saturday in Chamberlain.

Woyuonihan means to honor…

Many tribal elders, parents and children gathered at the foot of the Dignity Earth and Sky statue to honor the youth and celebrate the culture for Youth Woyuonihan Day.

“Bringing our youth here, I want them to have a strong sense of pride in where they come from and where they are going,” said Missy Huff, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate Director of Operations.

“It’s okay to be who you are, through song, through language, through dance, whatever gift the Creator gave our youth is to be shared today,” said Belinda Joe- Rencountre, co-organizer.

Throughout the event, keynote speakers spoke of the important role the children have.

“They are future leaders, if you view them as leaders if you view them as adults that will take all this over for us when our time moves on,” said Peter Lengkeek, Dakota, Crow Creek Tribal Chairman.

While children sang and danced to continue honoring their traditions.

“Kind of being a role model, and showing kids just to come out and get to do what they want, get out of their comfort zones and just dance around their elders,” said Katelyn Kennedy, dancer.

“I’m going to show other people how to represent their tribes and their schools,” said Aleighya Laroshe, Jr. Miss St. Joseph.

“Just teaching the younger generation little words in Dakota or if they want to dance I can show them, just making them feel proud about who they are,” said Sherrilynn Wise Spirit, Miss St. Joseph.

This was the second annual event. Last year’s event honored the women of the tribes, next year’s event will honor the men.