The Wacipi began in 1972 and is held the third full weekend in September at Dakota Wokiksuye Makoce (Land of Memories Park) in Mankato.
The arena is blessed before dancing and considered sacred ground and treated with respect. The arena is treated as a church. The MC specifies who is to enter and dance.
The Wacipi begins with the Grand Entry of all the dancers entering the arena. Leading the Grand Entry are the flag bearers. These flags may include the eagle staffs of various tribes and families in attendance, the United States and Canadian flags, tribal flags, service flags and the POW flag. Flags are usually carried by veterans.
Following the flag bearers are other important guests of the Wacipi including tribal officers, elders and royalty. Next in line are the men dancers followed by the women dancers, and then the children.
These are the "Jingle Dancers" because of the beautiful jingle sounds coming from their regalia. Dancers wear traditional regalia, not costumes. Each dancer creates his or her own regalia through many hours of hard work with each component having historical, spiritual, and personal significance.
0ften items are passed from one generation to the next or gifted to friends or relatives. Just feast your eyes on the next few images.
If you ever get a chance to attend a Wacipi, I highly recommend it. It will move your soul. Now, I'm going to go sew.