Frequently Asked Questions
Get to know Larry Yazzie & The Native Pride Dancers
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I grew up on the Meskwaki Settlement which is an unincorporated community in Tama County, Iowa. This was part of the historic territory of the Meskwaki, an Algonquian people. Since 1857, when Meskwaki bought land here, it has been home to a sizable community of Meskwaki Indians.
WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OR DIFFERENCES IN THE TRIBES?
There over 500 federally recognized tribes in the United States. We are of the Algonquin origin from the Eastern Woodland Culture areas.
Of the federally recognized tribes, 229 are located in Alaska. The remainder are spread across 33 other states. The 2010 U.S. Census reported 2.9 million people with pure American Indian and Alaska Native ancestry. Native Americans of mixed race totaled 2.3 million.
HOW DID YOU LEARN NATIVE AMERICAN DANCING AND HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN DOING THIS PROFESSIONALLY?
I started dancing at the age of 7 years old. Every year in my community we hold our annual Meskwaki Powwow held every 2nd weekend in August. That’s when I knew I wanted to dance! I’ve been dancing ever since. My dancing has literally taken me all over the world. I started dancing over 25 years ago and have danced professionally all over the world.
WHAT DO YOU CALL THE GARMENTS THAT YOU WEAR AND WHERE DO YOU FIND THEM? THEY LOOK EXTREMELY HEAVY. HOW MUCH DO THEY WEIGH?
I prefer to call my garments regalia or outfit and they weigh approximately 40 lbs. We don’t call them costumes because these items are sacred to us as indigenous people. The beadwork, quill work (quill of the porcupine and hair is used as part of our roach or headdress) takes many hours, days and months to create. It is made with prayer.
TELL ME ABOUT THE DIFFERENT “REGALIA” AND THE DIFFERENT DANCES YOU PERFORM.
There are different styles of dances in PowWow’s. I dance the Men’s Fancy Dance, a flamboyant and colorful style originated in Oklahoma back in the early 1900s. I also dance the Men’s Northern Traditional Dance which is a dance telling the story of hunting the enemy or wild game for a successful hunt. The Eagle Dance is a dance of the sacred eagle giving honor and blessings for all those in need of healing and prayers.
WHAT ARE SOME INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE THAT PEOPLE PROBABLY DON’T KNOW?
Each tribe is uniquely different through culture, language and each tribe still has sovereignty rights with the US government.
There is a lot of misconception about Native Americans and that we don’t pay taxes. However we do pay taxes.
We are very honorable people. Native Americans were the first to enlist in the armed services. Per capita, Native Americans served in wars as snipers, scouts and code talkers.
WHERE CAN PEOPLE SEE YOUR PERFORMANCES?
You can catch my performances at festivals, state fairs, colleges, universities, elementary, middle and high schools. We also perform at corporate events, conventions, parades, halftime shows and powwows.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME?
When I’m not performing, I spend a lot of my downtime in my homeland of the Meskwaki settlement. In the summertime I love gardening, cutting wood for our sacred fires, working out by running and biking and practicing my dance. I love learning about my culture and attending our community ceremonies.