Wahpeton Dakota Nation celebrates a proud weekend

Tyler Clarke
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A weekend of regalia, dance and song proved a shining example of pride during the Wahpeton Dakota Nation’s Wacipi Competition Powwow over the weekend.


Decked to the nines in regalia, Playton Chief from Little Island Lake is seen dancing on Friday, during the first of three days of the Wahpeton Dakota Nation War of 1812 Bicentennial Wacipi Competition Powwow.

The powwow had First Nations people of all ages participating in various categories of dance, with visiting bands setting up camp near the activities.

Looking over a large crowd that had gathered for the weekend’s grand opening, FSIN Interim Chief Morley Watson motioned the crowd with a smile:

“To see the old people so happy at these celebrations, to see young people carry on our way of life. All the drum groups, the dancers, make these celebrations what they are,” he said.

“You, like our drum groups, like our dancers, you being here makes these celebrations important.”

Bringing traditions forward to today’s generation was a large part of the event’s focus, coupled with recognition of lesser-known historical facts regarding the War of 1812.

During the opening ceremony, representatives from the Prince Albert Historical Society gave Wahpeton Dakota Nation Chief Leo Omani back a medal that is now 200 years old.

The 1812 King George III British Pre-Confederation Treaty Medal belongs to the Wahpeton Dakota Nation after all, society representative Morley Harrison explained.

To see the old people so happy at these celebrations, to see young people carry on our way of life. All the drum groups, the dancers, make these celebrations what they are. FSIN Interin Chief Morley Watson

The medal was awarded to Chief Flying Thunder for saving the life of a British government officer when he was shot and wounded by a Yankee officer.

The Dakota Nation joined others alongside the British Crown in defeating the Americans during the War of 1812.

“There was a big percentage of young children under the age of 12 that lost their lives. The spirit of those children is with us, and we can see them in that dance,” the event’s emcee Howard Walker said.

“History can show us and teach us many things,” Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback said.

“It can teach us mistakes that we’ve made in the past and hopefully we’re smart enough to learn from those mistakes, but also it can teach us things that we’ve done right, and hopefully we can repeat those things.

“History shows us what happens when we work together and what we can accomplish.”

Organizations: First Nations, Prince Albert Historical Society

Geographic location: Dakota Nation

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