Monday, August 11, 2014

100th Annual Meskwaki Nation Powwow Meskwaki Settlement Tama Iowa

By Bob Uhl
All Rights Reserved

With emcees such as two-time world champion Fancy Dancer Larry Yazzie, who’s been emceeing now for 6 years, & elder Ben Bear, who’s been emceeing since the age of 27, ‘Rockin the House’ pretty much sums up this Powwow near Tama Iowa. 

(Emcees Larry Yazzie & Ben Bear, Meskwaki Nation Powwow) 

Ben Bear, a respected elder, was born & raised on the Meskwaki Settlement & never left. He’s been emceeing since the age of 27 and a manager at the Meskwaki Bingo Casino. Ever notice when an elder says the invocation before a celebration and it comes from the heart, even if you don’t understand or speak the native language, it just silences any audience? Ben Bear did just that.

As we stood & watched the younger dancers, I asked Ben his
thoughts on the young ones & what would he tell them?

So many of the young ones are in turmoil with their identities. They need to discover who they are so they can build upon that identity and carry that back to the people for themselves and their nation.
Larry Yazzie grew up on the Meskwaki Settlement as well and I was able to speak with him for a few minutes.

What inspired you to dance?

At 4 or 5 years old this Meskwaki Powwow inspired me to do what I do.

What kind of kid was Larry Yazzie?

Growing up in the 70’s there was lots of time spent outside. There was no 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 not Native Pride?

A regular 8-5 job would not appeal to me. I believe that each of us are called to do what we do by the Creator & this is what I do.

Any projects your working on that you can talk about? 

Native Pride is working and 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 all these young native children here?

Take pride in yourself and your culture. Do not let outside influences deter your motivation to help your community and yourselves.
Mr. Yazzie has many performance credits to date: the Olympics, Kennedy Center, international festivals in Japan, Ireland, France, Norway, Brazil and of recent Jordan at the annual Jerash Festival and Russia.

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 to name a few. Below, Jason Jefferson(red regalia) and Anton Pushatequa perform the Shield Dance. 

The Shield Dance- Jason Jefferson(red regalia), Anton Pushatequa 

The Buffalo Head Dance
The Pipe Dance
The Swan Dance

The heartbeat of mother earth was heard through the drumming & singing of groups such as Brown Otter, Young Buffalo Horse from Oklahoma, Black Lodge Singers from Washington State & Wildfox pictured below. Wildfox is a group of young boys from the Meskwaki Nation who did a great job at this powwow. 

Wildfox Singers

Brown Otter

Young Buffalo Horse

Black Lodge Singers

The specials just kept coming as Lane Jensen, World Champion Hoop Dancer (Navajo/Maricopa) from Mesa Arizona does some exhibition hoop dancing. 

Lane Jensen (Navajo/Maricopa Nation) Mesa AZ. 

Grand Entry Saturday Evening

I would just like to say ashoge (thank you) Meskwaki Nation for sharing your beautiful culture, your dancing, singing and drumming. Thank you to Mr. Larry Yazzie and Mr. Ben Bear for taking time from their busy schedules to talk with me. As you know, there are 100’s of men and
women behind the scenes who make such an event possible and I say thank you for all your hard work, dedication and focus for putting such an event together. 
I would encourage everyone, if you have not been to this powwow, to attend the 101st annual Meskwaki Powwow on the Meskwaki Settlement near Tama Iowa next year. I guarantee you will not be disappointed. You can see over 100 photos of this Powwow on our blogspot at        Toksha, Bob Uhl.