Native American presenter aims to educate about his heritage

Published 3:49 pm Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Larry Yazzie, artistic director for Native Pride Productions, wowed students at the elementary schools this week with a variety of dances. And it wasn’t just him, as he asked students and teachers to participate as well.

“Consider myself a cultural educator,” he said, referring to the presentations he gives to students around the world from kindergarten through 12th grades.

He also played the flute throughout the pow-wow singing and dancing session that also featured storytelling and student participation.

Email newsletter signup

He started after realizing there was a need to educate students about history and give them a full experience that involved beads and feathers.

During these presentations, he talks about the origins of dances, the history of the Meskwaki tribe and what to expect at a pow-wow.

He also wants to uplift them.

“I want them to walk away feeling joyful, happy, spirit-lifted, educated about culture and that we’re still here as Indigenous people and who the Indigenous people are and that we still exist today,” he said.

He wants them to learn respect for all cultures and be open to learning about them. He said it was his job to serve as a caretaker for the land.

He has performed for 20 years and traveled all over every state, and he said these presentations helped him overcome discrimination, especially while he was growing up.

His favorite part of doing them was traveling and meeting new people.

This was third grader Maija Drexl’s first time attending a Native American program, and she was looking forward to hearing what Yazzie said.

“I’m really excited,” she said.

Anastasia Wilhite, also a third grader, wasn’t sure what to expect but admitted she was looking forward to hearing it.

Jordan Linares Villalba was looking forward to the dancing portion of the presentation.

Yazzie is a member of the Meskwaki tribe in Iowa, and he also does a lecture series for colleges and universities. And although this was his first time in Albert Lea, he was already making plans to return next school year.