Molly Taylor, age seven, has been dancing six years. Yes, you read that right - since she was just one year old.
And last weekend, she won big in Bismarck, ND while competing in the Junior Girls Traditional dance.
Her mom, Lola Thunderchild, said on Monday, “We’re pretty proud, that was a big one. She’s wearing the Champion jacket and her ribbon skirt to school today!”
The United Tribes Powwow is a three-day contest held every fall in Bismarck. Dancers of all ages from all over the US and Canada attend. According to the website, it’s one of the biggest powwows “on the Great Plains powwow circuit.”
Dancers like Molly, from Canupawakpa Dakota First Nation, now living in Sioux Valley, compete for prize money in various categories (Traditional, Grass Dance, Jingle Dress, etc.)
By coming in first in her event, Molly won $300 and a powwow champions jacket, an unexpected windfall because she was younger and smaller than most of her competitors.
In fact, when the announcement came, Molly was already back at the campground playing with her Barbies and had to run back to accept her prize!
It’s not the first time she’s been in the money. At a recent powwow in Dunseith, she won $250 for placing second.
Remarkably for her tender age, Molly gives away most of her winnings.
In a quiet voice, she explained what she did after dancing in Bismarck: “I gave some money to an older lady sitting in the campground. I didn’t know her. I told her, ‘I want to give you some money because I won first place in the dance.’ Then I shake hands with them. They usually give me a hug.”
Lola says her two sons also compete in powwows, and it’s a family tradition to give a portion of their winnings away.
About the dance
Molly’s event, Junior Traditional, is where the girls dance to the beat of the drums in a graceful, controlled manner around the powwow circle keeping their feet close to the ground.
They carry feathers, a shawl and sometimes a purse. Their dresses are usually made by the dancer or a close relative.
Molly’s outfit was made by her mother, an educational assistant at Virden Junior High.
You can see a video of Molly performing her winning dance on the Virden Empire-Advance Facebook page.
More Westman winners
Other Western Manitoba dancers won prizes in Bismarck:
Blaze Standing Ready, Junior Boys Traditional, Beulah, Man.
Tatiyana Brown, Womens Fancy, Miniota, Man.
Terence Brown, Senior Mens Fancy, Miniota, Man.
Donny McKay, Golden Age Men, Griswold, Man.