PINE RIDGE, S.D. — The Oglala Sioux Tribe in Pine Ridge is preparing for its annual All Veterans Wacipi.
The event was started in 1988 to honor Vietnam veterans. Now, the three-day pow wow allows the Lakota people to honor all native veterans. While COVID cancelled the Wacipi and other pow-wows last year, organizers are glad they can again honor their heroes.
Secretary of the Veterans Wacipi, Elaine Matotamahuca, got involved as she wanted to carry on her fathers legacy and recognize those who served. She spoke with one Vietnam vet who credits the Lakota traditions and ceremonies for helping with his mental health struggles.
“He said, ‘you know what helped me deal with my PTSD?’ I said, ‘no, what helped you?’ He said, ‘our ceremonies did, our ceremonies helped me. I went to Inipi and that helped me. They wiped me off, that’s another ceremony.’ And so, it’s incorporating our way to promote healing. Not only for the veterans but for the community,” Matotamahuca said.
The Wacipi starts Thursday evening with the arrival of up to 300 Crazy Horse riders. They ride from Ft. Robinson, Nebraska, to Pine Ridge in honor of the tribe’s greatest warrior, Crazy Horse. There will also be a Wiping of Tears ceremony, youth skate competition, and cultural dances throughout the weekend.