Prison Pow Wow Provides Hope for Inmates


Posted By Toyacoyah Brown May 16th, 2017 Blog


Families enjoyed a brief reunion over the weekend as 400 people attended a pow wow held at the Mike Durfee State Prison located in Springfield, South Dakota. As reported by The Daily Republic, the cost to throw the pow wow is about $3,500 and is paid for by the Lakota Council of Tribes (LCT), a group made up of inmates at the Springfield prison. Sylvester Pacheco, president of LCT, says along with tribal donations, inmates also pay $3.50 per guest.


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“Pretty much every tribe contributes something, whether it be firewood, rocks, botanical sweet grass, sage, whatever,” Pacheco said.

As you can imagine, the pow wow is something the inmates look forward to and provides them with a bit of hope and positivity.

Rebecca Schieffer, the associate warden at Mike Durfee State Prison, was quoted in the article:

“If you have your faith to rely on, that gives a lot of these guys hope for salvation, redemption, something to love and something that loves them,” Schieffer said.

But there are tangible benefits, too. Schieffer said inmates who receive more positive social interaction with friends and family members have lower disciplinary rates and transition more easily into the community after their release. During a powwow, inmates get the full day with their families, which she said is incredibly important to them.

“When it comes to family visits, that is probably the most important thing to them,” Schieffer said. “They really do value it so much.”

The healing powers of music, dance, and culture!


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Photo – Jake Shama / Republic

About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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