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Origins Of The Rosebud Fair

BY VI WALN (SICANGU LAKOTA)

The Rosebud Sioux Tribe is hosting their annual celebration this week. Rodeos, wacipi, mud race, hand games, softball games, parades, carnival, food vendors and horse races are some of the activities happening on the fairgrounds.

It is said this celebration was established to honor the warriors who returned victorious from the 1876 Battle of the Little Big Horn. There are differing accounts as to when this celebration was first held. People also say the celebration wasn’t always held in Rosebud.

It doesn’t really matter when or where the first celebration was held, what matters is that it was an honoring of our ancestors who defeated the US Army and captured their flag. Lakota oral history accounts, shared over the last 141 years, tell us that there were 5 or 6 guidon flags taken from the fallen soldiers. America never did come to ask for their flags back.

Francis White Bird, a decorated Vietnam Veteran, had replicas of those captured guidon flags made several years ago. Those guidon flags are carried by the Sicangu Lakota Warriors at the wacipi during the Rosebud celebration. A special victory dance is also held during the wacipi to remember our ancestors who defeated General Custer and his troops in 1876.

Some of us know why Rosebud Fair is held every August. There are Lakota people who listened to elders tell about how the fair was organized long ago. Our great-grandparents were self-sufficient and came to camp at the fair with everything they needed. Tents, wood, water, food, bedding, tools, dishes, utensils, etc. were all packed in their wagons.

Lakota elders also tell of ceremonies held at those early Rosebud Fairs. This was during the time when our ceremonies were against wasicu law. People were once jailed for participating in ceremony. One elder told of witnessing a kettle dance during the fair. Our ancestors were smart, they knew how to keep our ceremonial way of life alive and hidden during the darkest times in our history.

Today, many Sicangu Lakota people are oblivious to the history of Rosebud Fair. Contemporary Lakota society isn’t focused on teaching our people about their history. Nevertheless, we appreciate the individuals who’ve worked hard over the years to ensure the Sicangu people know the origins of Rosebud.

The tribe does sponsor free meals at the wacipi for everyone to partake in. There are also some tribal programs sponsoring meals for our children. Look for a booth with Rosebud Police officers serving hot dogs and chips for children over the weekend.

We want everyone to have a good time and to be safe.

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