Native Sun News Today: Wambli Ska keeps culture alive for youth

Wambli Ska Ohitika Leland West, Miss Wambli Ska Stormy Rose Hayes and Jr. Miss Wambli Ska Kylee Walking. Photo by Ernestine Chasing Hawk

Wambli Ska: Bringing back culture
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Today
Managing Editor

RAPID CITY –– A young jingle dress dancer flits across the dance floor practicing her dance moves as a young warrior completes putting on his traditional dance outfit so he can get his picture taken with the reigning Royalty of the Wambli Ska Drum & Dance Society.

Every Wednesday night dozens of young and old alike gather to participate in Lakota song and dance at the old Boys Club Thrift Store across the street from the Journey Museum off New York Street, a social gathering that has become central to a thriving Rapid City Indian community.

Nine years ago Doran White Eagle, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, had a vision, help bring back the Lakota culture to urban Indian youth that had all but lost their way.

“A lot of kids were getting into trouble and not listening to their parents or grandparents,” said White Eagle, President of the Wambli Ska Drum & Dance Society. “It was at that time I decided to start the Dance Society.”

“People were telling me they have tried to do this in the past and it would only last three to four months. Reason being – Rapid City was rough,” White Eagle said. “After a church donated a drum to us, I decided to help keep kids out of trouble.”

The dance group’s humble beginnings were at the Woyatan Lutheran Church just off Anamosa Street where they started with just eight dancers and one drum group. Some of the youth had no outfits but their hearts were into learning Lakota song and dance.

So White Eagle and his wife Nora, a member of Three Affiliated Tribes of North Dakota not only provided a safe place for young people to learn and practice traditional song and dance, they also provided the materials for young and old alike to create their very own dance outfits. Families gathered at Woyatan Church once a week where they fashioned from beads, feathers, jingles, leather, fringe and vibrantly colored materials the outfits they would need to hit the pow wow trail.

“We started as the Woyatan Drum and Dance Group and then it started growing and growing. We outgrew the church so we went to Mother Butler and then we went to Lakota homes. Now we kinda outgrew the Lakota Homes Community Room,” White Eagle said with a smile. “Five and six drums would show up and all the dancers. We didn’t have very much room.”

Now the group meets to practice, socialize and have a good time at the old Boys Club Thrift Store every Wednesday night.

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Wambli Ska: Bringing back culture

(Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at

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