52nd annual Time Out Wacipi brings community together at UND

Apr. 21—GRAND FORKS — The 52nd annual Time Out Wacipi allows head woman dancer Mia Wilkinson to do something she's always loved.

"It's pretty nice, especially just getting a break from medical school and being able to do something I've always done," Wilkinson said. "I like to dance for fun and since powwows are (often) so far away, it's nice to have something right here in town."

Wilkinson, a member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, is studying medicine at UND and is planning either to go into family medicine or psychiatry and wants to help her community members back in New Town, North Dakota. As head woman dancer, Wilkinson brings in all the dancers during the Wacipi's grand entrance and makes sure everyone is having a good time.

A Wacipi, which is the Dakota/Lakota word for powwow and is pronounced wah-chee-pee, is a celebration of life and features dancing, singing and a celebration of culture. UND has hosted the event since the 1970s to bring awareness to Native American cultures and issues while also being a celebration of spring and upcoming graduation ceremonies.

Throughout the week, UND has held events ranging from talks on Federal Indian Law to fashion shows and community feeds. The week culminates in the Wacipi, which brings together the community to watch dancers perform and compete and also learn more about Native American cultures and the area's tribal nations.

The events kick off with the grand entrance. Members of the Spirit Lake VFW and head dancers Mia Wilkinson and Cameron Chaske led the procession with the host drum being from Red Nation. The event also included an honoring of UND Indians in Medicine and several categories of dance competitions for various ages and types of traditional dances.

The Wacipi was held at UND's Hyslop Sports Center. In addition to the dance competition, spectators could also visit various vendors and food options during the event. It was also a place for members of local tribal communities, Grand Forks and UND to come together to learn and celebrate the coming of spring and the accomplishments of the last year.

"Seeing students that just want to come check it out be curious (is good to see)," Wilkinson said. "Even just people in the community that want to see; I've seen a lot of people come."

Wilkinson said they pride themselves on this type of event, and she encourages people to check the event out.

"If it's somebody's first time very first time seeing the powwow, getting a glimpse of our culture and our dances and hopefully starting to build some curiosity of why we do the dances, you can always go and ask some the reason why because we're willing to talk about our culture and why we still do this," Wilkinson said. "We pride ourselves on powwows and still being able to dance."