Our community, our culture: Sisseton Wahpeton celebrates

This article appeared in Native Sun News in August 2011.

At the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate's recent Summer Bash, artist and tribal member Fred Kohl, shown left, displayed his 930-pound steel-plate sculpture, depicting a white buffalo on one side and a snarling bear on the other. Kohl, who also creates chain-saw and rock-and-concrete sculptures, intends to create more steel pieces in a variety of sizes. "Future works will not necessarily require a forklift to move!" he said. 

Kohl also recalled a living bear's reaction to the buffalo-bear statue. "It came walking up, took one look at the growling-bear head, snorted, shook itself, and ran off," he said. "That was awesome!" 

Held on the grounds of what was the notorious Catholic Church-run Tekakwitha Orphanage (now demolished by the tribe), the Sisseton Wahpeton Summer Bash featured games, door prizes, food, health booths, music deejayed by Tom Wilson of SWO's station KXSW, and a table for the Tribal Historic Preservation Office, where Tamara St. John, shown right wearing a green top, helped children with culture-oriented activities. The day-long event delivered on its promise of "fun in the sun" for hundreds of attendees, including lots of happy children. 

Said St. John, "The festival is a way to show our children what good care of them we take today and how much their community supports them." 

Text and photographs c. Stephanie Woodard.

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