‘Rockin the House’ summed up the flavor of the 100th Annual Meskwaki Nation Powwow near Tama, Iowa. Fancy Dancer Larry Yazzie (and elder Ben Bear), who’s been emceeing now for 6 years, provided the entertainment for the event.
The Meskwaki Nation Powwow is unique as it has many special dances carried down from generation to generation. The Snake Dance, Swan Dance, Shield Dance, Pipe Dance and the Buffalo Head Dance were performed.
Yazzie, who is a two-time World Champion Fancy Dancer and member of the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa/Meskwaki, has many performance credits to date: the Olympics, the Kennedy Center, international festivals in Japan, Ireland, France, Norway, Brazil and of recent Jordan at the annual Jerash Festival and Russia.
Bob Uhl caught up with Yazzie for a quick interview at the pow wow, and asked him why he dances, what keeps him motivated, and what advice he has for young Natives.
What was it like growing up?
Growing up in the 1970s a lot of time [was] spent outside. There wasno internet, no computer, so time was spent at ceremonies and learning from elders.
What keeps you motivated?
Being fit, leading a healthy lifestyle, choosing to dance and being creative keeps me motivated.
What challenges do you have doing what you do?
The physical challenges most athletes have such as knees, taking care of myself and keeping a balance in my life to do what I do; along with cultural challenges.
Do you have any hobbies?
I love learning my language, my culture and doing the feather work for my regalia.
Any ambitions not yet obtained?
Running my first marathon.
What would you be doing if you did not have Native Pride Arts?
A regular 8-to-5 job would not appeal to me. I believe that each of us are called to do what we do by the Creator and this is what I do.
Any projects your working on that you can talk about?
Native Pride is working and [we] will continue to work with the government to do cultural exchanges with embassies around the world so other countries can experience the indigenous cultures of this nation.
What advice would you give Native children here?
Take pride in yourself and your culture. Do not let outside influences deter your motivation to help your community and yourselves.
A version of Bob Uhl's story is printed above. You can read his full, unedited story here.