Eagle Butte filled to the brim over Labor Day weekend as relatives gathered from far and wide to reconnect, celebrate, and mourn, as events of the first Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe powwow since 2019 spread throughout the powwow and rodeo grounds and up and down Main Street.
Event co-chair RJ Lawrence said the committee chose the theme “Remembering our Past, to Strengthen our Future” to acknowledge this event was one of remembrance as well as celebration. “We wanted to bring people together,” said Lawrence, “and it turned out amazing.”
This was the first powwow since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down celebrations in 2020 and 2021. Many families suffered loss in the intervening years. Lawrence, along with co-chairs John Kessler and Bernita In The Woods, wanted to make the event this year especially meaningful.
Lawrence estimates the population of Eagle Butte probably doubled over the weekend, from 5,000 to 10,000, with the influx of dancers, carnival-goers, rodeo participants and audience.
Tents and campers filled fields around the powwow grounds. Cars streamed in from across the reservation and the region to join the celebration and reunite with friends and family.
Organizers provided 58 port-a-potties and eight showers for attendees. Sixty extra security personnel were available throughout the weekend to look out for people and direct traffic.
Supper feeds at the school cafeteria fed over 950 people a night on Friday and Saturday, and over 1,200 people on Sunday and Monday.
Says Lawrence, “It was a lot of work, but it all turned out to be worth it in the end.”
Events got underway Thursday evening with the opening of the carnival and the Romey Gunville Saddle Bronc Memorial Chute Out at the rodeo grounds.
Friday was Kids Play Day at the rodeo grounds, followed by the Youth Rough Stock Series tournament. The horseshoe tournament got underway at the powwow grounds. The first Grant Entry of the weekend took place Friday night.
Formal powwow events began on Saturday morning with flag raising at 8 a.m. Contestants took their places at softball, volleyball, and cornhole tournaments. Excited cheering filled the rodeo grounds when the rodeo started Saturday afternoon.
Dancing competitions continued Sunday through Monday. The Grand Entry on Saturday night was massive. Final dance competitions on Monday thrilled those in the stands.
Announcer Jerry Dearly did a wonderful job throughout the powwow. He and his team woke relatives up in the morning with inspirational thoughts over the PA. He read the names of veterans being honored as their flags were raised in a way that brought their memories alive.
Dearly interspersed his commentating with occasional jokes and requests for food, reunited people with lost phones and wallets, and made sure the audience appreciated all the dancers.
A new royal court for 2022-2023 replaced the former court, which held their positions for an extra year due to COVID: Mini Miss CRST Brielle Garreau, Little Miss CRST January Lee, Junior Miss CRST Precious Cook, and Miss CRST Summer Bowman.
Veterans from Cheyenne River veterans organizations and veterans visiting from other locations participated in flag raising and lowering every day. Twenty-one flags flew over the powwow grounds, with the Cheyenne River flag in the center.
Veterans from CRST Veterans Service Office, Lakota Akicita, the Kit Fox Society, American Legion Post #308, and others carried flags of the United States, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, the American Indian Movement, and the Lakota 38+2/Oceti Sakowin Treaty; along with ceremonial staffs of the Lakota Akicita, the Kit Fox society, and Cheyenne River veterans; in procession into Grand Entry and at the head of the parade.
Throughout the powwow, singers and drummers from Bear Butte, Wakiyan Maza, and Show Time Singers, led by host drum Standing Horse, supported the crowd in song and prayer. Honor and flag songs got the crowd on their feet in respect.
Vendors came from across the rez and the state to interact with the crowds: including the Warrior Women Project, South Dakota Democrats, KIPI 93.5 FM Radio, and others.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Open Rodeo results
Listed below are the rodeo results from the CRST Open Rodeo that was held on Sunday, Sept. 4.
1st Kashton Ford, Sturgis SD, 76 points
2nd Reigns Provost, Kyle, SD, 72 points
Saddle Bronc Riding
No Qualified Rides
1st Cody Woodward, Dupree, SD, 7.43
1st Slick Phelps, Kyle, SD, 76 points
2nd Chaz Gabe, Timber Lake, SD, 74
3rd Art McLane, Eagle Butte, SD, 64
No qualified times
Senior Mens’ Breakaway Roping
1st Joe Dupris, Green Grass, SD, 3.73
2nd Marty Hebb, Cherry Creek, SD, 4.52
Ladies’ Breakaway Roping
1st CY Christensen, Kennebec, SD, 2.34
2nd Sydney Ferguson, Dupree, SD, 3.03
3rd Colbee Woodward, Dupree, SD, 3.97
4th Shanna Gebhardt, Timber Lake, SD, 5.29
Ladies’ Barrel Racing
1st Carole Hollers, Sturgis, SD, 15.153
2nd Phannette Gray, LaPlant, SD, 15.313
3rd Gabi Irving, Pierre, SD, 15.354
4th Teagan Longbrake, Dupree, SD, 15.585
1st Colton & Carson Musick, Pierre, SD, 17.28
2nd Marty McPherson, Sturgis, SD & Lynn Williams, Faith, SD, 19.91
3rd Riggin Mortenson & Kourt Starr, Dupree, SD, 21.28
4th Jeremy & Colter Ferguson, Eagle Butte, SD, 39.32
Mixed Team Roping
No Qualified Times
Wild Horse Race
1st Rough Riders: Wyatt Knight, Art McLane, Tate Weidmer