SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — With no school on Monday, students at Washington High School celebrated Native American Day Thursday during their lunch hour.
One student has danced at the event since she was a freshman.
Students in the Okichiyapi Club at Washington High have celebrated Native American Day for the last 22 years.
“To bring awareness that we are still here. And we are still people, instead of being forgotten or being a memory or just part of history. We are still here, and we are still living and striving on this land,” said Emma Eagle Star, Senior.
The celebration included performances by members of the club.
“We have this one dancer Rosie, she does it every year. She’s wonderful at it. And I really do find it special that she still does it,” Eagle Star said.
“I’ve been going to pow wow’s since I was born. I like the moment I could walk, I’ve been dancing. And it just like really, like helps me embrace my culture,” Rosalie Szameit, Junior, said.
Members of the club say the goal of the event is to educate other students about Indigenous culture and recruit future members for the club.
“I hope that seeing me embrace my culture, I hope that others can embrace their culture as well. Because I feel especially today, a lot of people like the thing it’s like embarrassing or they don’t want to do it because it’s like, not cool. But like, I think it is cool to be involved in your culture and really show it off,” Szameit said.
These students hope the community can continue to celebrate Native American culture all year round.
Part of the celebration also included the installation of a teepee on the front lawn.
Teacher Bruce Rekstad says he started the club 22 years ago to give more representation to Indigenous students.