Welcome to Rosebud Fair

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is having a General Election today Thursday, August 23, 2012. I encourage all of you who are registered voters to cast your ballot. This is one way you can become involved in your own tribal government.


Many have lost faith in the Indian Reorganization Act which was basically forced upon us by the federal government in 1934. Many believe our tribal government needs to be changed. I remain hopeful that a true Lakota leader will emerge from the Seventh Generation to re-write our Tribal Constitution in a way which benefits all of us.


A totally new Tribal Constitution, written to reflect the virtues of our ancestors, could be proposed to the tribal council at any time. If each community worked together to collectively bring the same resolution requesting a brand new Constitution in front of the tribal council they would have to act upon it. Such action could be put to a ballot through Article IX of the current RST Constitution, which reads in part: “It shall be the duty of the Secretary of Interior to call an election on any proposed amendment, upon receipt of a written resolution signed by at least three-fourths (3/4) of the membership of the Council.”


On a happier note, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe is sponsoring the 136th Annual Rosebud Fair, Rodeo and Wacipi this week. Many people look forward to this time of year as it is celebration time for us. There are many activities scheduled to happen. I hope that you all have a great time.


I especially want to welcome all of our tribal members who live off the rez along with other visitors to the Rosebud Reservation for this annual celebration. Many of our family members come home for this celebration. It will be good to see them again.


I have written about Rosebud Fair in the past and some scholars have disagreed with the timelines I have put forth concerning the origins of our celebration. Still, as I have come to understand the history of my own people, the Sicangu Lakota maintain that our very first tribal celebration was held in late summer of 1876. This occurred when the Sicangu Lakota Oyate learned of the June 25 annihilation of General George A. Custer and the 7th Calvary. A welcome home victory celebration to honor many Lakota warriors who had fought in the Battle of the Little Big Horn took place here on the Rosebud. Our Lakota Akicita carried home the personal flag of the fallen General Custer along with several troop guidon flags.


Francis White Bird, Sicangu tribal member and Decorated Vietnam Veteran, had replicas of the captured flags made several years ago. A ceremony was also held at Fort Meade in Sturgis to dedicate the flags. The flags are carried in the grand entry at the Rosebud Wacipi held in August. When the replicas were first brought to Rosebud, White Bird gave a history of how they came into the possession of the Lakota people and talked about the origin of the celebration. The Lakota descendants present that day were proud to be part of a waktegli waci or victory dance.


In the book, The Sioux of the Rosebud, Anderson and Hamilton write of the Fourth of July festivities in 1897 where “The celebration lasted for six days…On July 1 the Indians went to the fairgrounds… one mile north of the Rosebud Agency and set up their great circle of tipis…on July 6 the Indian police held a drill followed by a…reenactment of the Battle of the Little Big Horn. This event should not have required much coaching, since almost every Indian present over twenty-one years old had been at the original battle in 1876.”


When I was a small child I remember a large building which once served as a display area for the tribal fair. Garden produce, canned goods, handmade clothing, drawings, beadwork, quillwork, plus other arts and crafts items were judged at the fair. The displays were organized according to the districts of the Rosebud Reservation.


My late Grandmother often reminisced about how the celebration was when she was a child. The people of Rosebud knew it was fair time when a steady procession of horse-drawn wagons would arrive from all directions. Several people from the different reservation districts would come to the agency a few weeks in advance to prepare the camping area by building shades and outhouses. They would also build the arbor for the Wacipi and prepare the rodeo arena. All of this was volunteer work.


Families would travel with essentials and food to last the duration of the fair. Back then our people were so self-sufficient that they didn’t have to depend on anyone for anything. Wagons were loaded with clothing, bedding, tipis, poles, canvas tents, firewood, tools, along with cooking and eating utensils.


The tiospaye camped according to the district they came from. It was a very organized circle, with everyone respecting each other and their camping area. There was no running water as we know it today. So travelers had to haul their own water in wooden barrels. Can you imagine Rosebud Fair without the food vendors? Back in the day, Lakota cooks would pack dried meat, biscuits, boiled potatoes, and home canned fruit for their families to eat while camping.


On the first day of the fair, there would be a morning charge. Many young men and women would mount their horses for a long charge through camp. Lakota victory songs were sung back then as they still are today. The Wacipi was held for people to dance and enjoy themselves. Other ceremonies, such as a young woman’s coming out celebration or feasts to honor family members, were also held during the Wacipi.


Now, 136 years after Custer fell at Little Big Horn, the Sicangu Lakota still remember the accomplishments of our ancestors by hosting the Rosebud Fair at the end of August. This weekend make sure to put safety first!

Published by Vi Waln


%d bloggers like this: