Arts & Culture


Dancers in colorful regalia take part in the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Nation's Annual Wacipi or Pow-Wow. Established in 1867, it is the oldest continual event in South Dakota. The Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux Tribe tribal members and friends gather in colorful, traditional costumes each summer. A festive atmosphere includes pounding drums and fancy dancing. Visitors are welcome at this annual cultural and historic event.

The annual Horse & Buggy Days takes place the week-end of the third Saturday of July and includes a parade, street dance, art-in-the-park, stage entertainment, ranch rodeo, wagon train, and much more for a fun filled week-end. For information write PO Box 151, Sisseton, SD 57262. or call (605) 698-7642 The Sisseton Theatre is considered a historical building. The current movies are shown weekly, and a stage has been constructed so theatrical presentations may be provided to the community. Call: (605) 698-7776 for listing of current and future premiers.

Sisseton Performing Arts Center

In April 2010, the Sisseton School District opened its new $4 million, 675-seat Performing Arts Center adjacent to Sisseton High School. The 22,600-square-foot structure includes band and choir rooms, practice areas, two dressing rooms and a 78’ x 30’ stage. There are 405 seats on the main floor of the theater, and an additional 270 “telescoping” seats in the back that can be pulled out for large performances. In addition to school and community groups that utilize the facility, professional performers including Lorie Line, Tonic Sol-fa, the US Air Force “Brass in Blue” and the Dakota Jazz Collective have stepped onto the Sisseton stage to entertain local audiences. For a list of upcoming events at the Sisseton Performing Arts Center, e-mail

Sisseton Arts Council

A group of volunteers began hosting arts-related events to Sisseton in 1980. The group officially became the Sisseton Arts council in 1986 and continues to be one of the most active rural-community arts organizations in the state. For 30 years they have hosted a week-long residency of Missoula Children’s Theater, which annually involves a cast of more than 60 students from kindergarten through high school. Each year on the first Sunday in December they kick off the Christmas season with Holiday Harmonies, a concert featuring local talent which benefits the Sisseton Food Pantry. For information on upcoming events sponsored by the Sisseton Arts Council, go to

Stateline Fiddlers & Musicians Jamboree

Musicians from three states gather monthly (March through October) on the last Friday of the month to share country, blue grass, gospel, folk, patriotic, old-time and rock n’ roll music. There’s a new show each month with plenty of room for dancing at the Sisseton Senior Citizen Center on Veterans Avenue. A light lunch is provided and free-will donations are accepted.

Northern Fort Playhouse

2012 will mark the seventh season of summer theatre at the Northern Fort Playhouse at Fort Sisseton State Park. Each July a cast and crew from the Northern State University Theatre Department in Aberdeen stages two theatrical productions in the historic South Barracks Theatre at Fort Sisseton State Park near Lake City. Afternoon (2:00 p.m.) and evening (7:30 p.m.) performances delight crowds for three weekends in July. Saturday night shows include dinner theatre options, with dinner served in the South Barracks at 6:00 p.m. For ticket information for this season’s shows go to

Fort Sisseton Historical Festival

The first weekend in June is the Fort Sisseton Historical Festival and Rendezvous. Cavalry troops and infantry units converge on the fort's grounds to form a military encampment complete with soldiers, women and children, and all the necessary tents, uniforms, horses, and memorabilia. The military is joined by fur traders and other participants of the Rendezvous - muzzleloaders, riflemen and crack-shots from eight states meet amidst a teepee encampment with dozens of lodges and traders.

The festival covers the whole gamut of frontier life and settlement. It includes fiddle music, medicine shows, an art and craft show, hoop dancing, songs and music from the Civil War, period dance instruction classes, and a military costume ball - colorful costumes, tall tales and unique system of bartering, will bring history to life. For more information call (605) 448-5701 or go to

A Tradition of Tribal Culture

Home to more than 12,000 members of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate (SWO), Sisseton and the surrounding Coteau des Prairies provide visitors with the opportunity for a dynamic cross-cultural experience. Here tribal members draw on their rich history, continue their cultural traditions and contribute to a vibrant, growing economy in the area.

The Sisseton Wahpeton are a band of the Santee or Eastern Dakota, from which our state takes its name. The word Dakota, translated as “friend” in English, is derived from the term Wodakota which means harmony, being at peace with oneself, others, and nature. A system of extended family relationships called the tiospaye is the foundation of Dakota society.

The story of the Sisseton and Wahpeton tribes is one of movement, sometimes willingly, sometimes unwillingly, of the native people that made their home in the Lake Traverse Reservation area. It is also the story of a people committed to maintaining their culture in the modern world through art, language, spirituality, and traditions.

The most powerful evidence of tribal culture occurs over the 4th of July each year at the annual Wacipi (pow wow) held at Old Agency seven miles south of Sisseton. Established in 1867, the Sisseton Wahpeton Wacipi is the longest-running annual event in South Dakota and one of the oldest established celebrations in the country. As many as a thousand dancers from across the United States and Canada gather in colorful regalia to perform the traditional songs and dances. Open to the public, the annual pow wow is always well attended and draws tourists from around the world. SWO also hosts an annual Veterans Day Pow-wow at Dakota Magic in Hankinson, ND, in November.

For more information see