SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A Sioux Falls woman is raising money with an Indian taco fundraiser in order to hold a memorial event for her daughter, who died during a storm in 2021. Ordering started on Thursday, August 10.

In September of 2021, Nyssa Ashes went with her family to an annual powwow in Mankato, MN. “It’s a regular powwow my family goes to every year, and we meet up and we all camp together,” Ashes said, recalling the event two years ago. “We got there on the 16th and everything was good.”

That night, an unexpected storm blew in. Ashes says she was later informed that there had been a tornado. In the events of the storm, a tree fell on their tent, injuring Nyssa, and taking the life of her 4-year-old daughter, Nytalia. “It was a week after her birthday,” Ashes said.

Nytalia Ashes

“When she did pass, my family and I debated whether we should come back to Sioux Falls or not to figure out preparations,” said Ashes. “We had a lot of support [in Mankato]. We had our medicine man there that was the one that gave [Nytalia] her native name, Wachi Win, and he thought it would be better for us to stay — it would be like a healing process for us if we stayed with everyone there as they prayed for us.”

Ashes and her family opted to stay in Mankato in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, and she says the powwow left it up to them if the event should continue.

“We ended up becoming really good friends with the chairman, and we let him know that we were comfortable with the powwow still going on,” Ashes said. “They did a blanket honoring for [Nytalia], where they took a star quilt around and everyone was able to make a donation towards her.”

Now, Ashes is raising funds for her daughter’s two-year memorial, which will be held at the 51st annual powwow this September in Mankato, where the arena has been named after Nytalia.

Ashes explained to us that in her culture, it is tradition to hold four years of memorials

“Nytalia was supposed to do her first year of jingle-dress dancing in 2021,” Ashes told us. “That was going to be her big surprise because my uncle had had dresses made for her already — she didn’t get to, so we gave all the jingle-dress dancers who danced in her honor in 2021 and 2021 a gift. Like a thank you for honoring her.”

There will be an honors ceremony at the powwow, and the family will do a giveaway in Nytalia’s honor. There will also be a ceremony to honor all those that helped the family.

In order to raise funds for this memorial, Ashes is holding an Indian taco fundraiser on August 11.

All proceeds from the sales will go to the memorial. You can order by texting Nyssa or Nayla Ashes at 605-940-8153 or 605-940-1695, or by messaging them on Facebook. Payment and donations can be made in cash or sent via Venmo, Cash App, Apple Pay or PayPal.

Tacos are $10 a piece and delivery is available for orders of three or more.

Ashes says that while they didn’t have the highest expectations for the first fundraiser they did in 2022, the response was good. “We have good hopes for this fundraiser,” she said. “We get a lot of good feedback about the Indian tacos.”

The powwow in Mankato runs from September 15-17th this year, and Nytalia’s memorial will take place on Saturday, September 16.

“If anyone wants to attend, it’s a public event,” Ashes said. “We’re welcoming anyone and everyone.”