Guest Blog: Kitchen Volunteers Needed for the Mendota Mdewakaton Pow Wow — Support Healing, Resistance and Love!

Joy Sorensen Navarre, long-time volunteer for the Mendota Mdewakaton Dakota Tribal Community Wacipi (Pow Wow), writes about her experience there and invites you to join and help.

Wacipi Means ‘We Dance’. It also means we work in the kitchen!

Every year I close my consulting business for three days to run the outdoor kitchen at the Mendota Mdewakaton Dakota Tribal Community traditional Wacipi or Pow Wow. My family laughs when they hear I’m running a kitchen, because at our house my husband cooks. I do it because the kitchen supports the Wacipi. The Wacipi is healing, resistance and love.

HMS blog readers know that state and federal law prohibited the Dakota from practicing religious ceremonies and cultural traditions for one hundred years, until 1978. Many Mendota Dakota grew up without the Wacipi—without dancing.

Eighteen years ago Bob Brown and other Mendota Dakota leaders re-started the Mendota Wacipi. For the first time in their life, Mendota Dakota elders danced. They danced with tears running down their faces. Tears of sorrow, of joy, of hope for their children. The Wacipi heals. If you come with an open heart, you will feel it, too.

If you come, you also will feel the Resistance. In today’s world, we’re all on a moving sidewalk of white superiority. If we don’t resist, it will carry us away. The Wacipi lets us get off the moving sidewalk. At the Wacipi, tribal members dress in regalia and drum groups sing Pow Pow songs. It reclaims traditions and values that, through the strength of elders, survived efforts at assimilation.

For non-Indians, the Pow Wow might feel foreign and uncomfortable. We can take courage and be part of the Resistance by honoring the traditional ways, watching, perhaps even dancing ourselves in an Inter-tribal dance. (Women who wish to respect Dakota tradition will wear a long skirt or wrap a shawl around their shoulders to dance.)

Love. When the Emcee tells corny Indian Country jokes, when the Color Guard brings in the flags, when parents sew regalia for their children as they teach traditional ways, when a Sun Dancer puts sage bundles on each corner of the kitchen, when our Tribal Chairwoman Sharon Lennartson keeps track of a million and one details so that the community can DANCE, the Wacipi is love.

And for all the healing, resistance, and love, people need to eat. The kitchen supports the Wacipi. Could you help us? We need 110 kitchen volunteers and so far, we have 75 volunteers. Specifically, we need 4 experienced fry bread cooks, 3 shift coordinators, servers, choppers and dishwashers. Youth ages 12 and up are welcome with an adult.

When: September 8-10, 2017.

What: Three-hour kitchen shifts on Saturday and Sunday starting at 8am. Compensation: a free meal and a gift of Dakota medicine.

Where: St. Peter’s Catholic Church Grounds, 1405 Sibley Memorial Hwy, Mendota MN 55150

If you can help: Kindly email or text Joy Sorensen Navarre at or 612-209-2382.

Pidamaya. Thank you.

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