Native Sun News: Wambli Ska group shares culture with youth

The following story was written and reported by Richie Richards Native Sun News Staff Writer. All content © Native Sun News.

Everyone joins in to dance with the Wambli Ska Dancers. Photo by Richie Richards

Non-Indian students join in Lakota dance at Storybook Island
By Richie Richards
Native Sun News Staff Writer

RAPID CITY –– In a time when Rapid City residents and organizations are working together for positive community relations and support networking, the Wambli Ska Drum & Dance Society is using their resources to share Native American culture with others.

In recent weeks several community groups and visiting organizations have been attending the weekly powwow at the Mother Butler Center on Monday evenings; including Independence Through Music from Oglala, Cross-Cultural Community Conversations from Rapid City, and a group of students visiting from Wheaton College in Illinois were all welcomed by Wambli Ska to participate.

On June 18 the Wambli Ska Drum & Dance Society was invited to perform at Storybook Island for visitors of the park. Nearly 30 dancers and two drums, including the Wambli Ska host drum with Wade Broken Nose and family and the Gleska Kte (Kill Spotted) drum, both out of Rapid City.

Among the visitors of Storybook Island was Girls Inc., on a field trip with 44 girls. Trish Collins, Health Advocate for Girls Inc. and chaperone was very excited to be asked to dance with the Wambli Ska dancers.

Many of the girls including Collins went to the center and were performing the steps they were shown by Wambli Ska members.

Collins said of the non-Native girls’ experience, “I think they loved it. I could see now they were following some of those dancers there (pointing to the fancy shawl dancers). They absolutely loved it!”

This was a first experience for many of the Girls Inc. group that have never been to a powwow much less asked to join in the dance.

The Wambli Ska Dancers at Storybook Island. Photo by Richie Richards

Collins confirmed that Girls Inc. does have a culture and heritage curriculum they teach their students, but that, “Nothing beats actually doing it!” She was enthused by the experience which came as a total surprise to her on this field trip to Storybook Island.

Opened in 1959, Storybook Island has been welcoming guests of all ages to this free park whose theme is based on children’s books. According to their website, “When Storybook Island opened for the first time, over 10,000 visitors flooded through the tower gates. Storybook Island is an important part of the cultural environment of Rapid City.”

The park is supported by Rapid City Rotary Clubs, the City of Rapid City, and many generous donors over the years. The fun environment was the perfect backdrop for a Native American performance which included visitors to the park.

The Native American culture in South Dakota is rich and vibrant. These traditional practices have been performed for many generations and in modern times, pow wows play a central role in teaching non-Natives the stories Native children have learned immemorial.

(Contact Richie Richards at

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