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‘We’re alive and we’re a beautiful culture:’ Champion fancy dancer performing to educate at Glenwood Caverns

Larry Yazzie performs for the crowd at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

World Champion Fancy Dancer Larry Yazzie is performing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park throughout the summer.

Yazzie, who was raised at the Meskwaki Nation’s homelands in Tama, Iowa, said he did a site visit at the adventure park in February and realized he could make a difference in the area through performance.

“I think they were just opening up. My purpose is to educate and break those stereotypes — give them a little bit of history,” Yazzie said. “Let me know we’re still here. We’re not just in museums or in history books. We’re alive, and we’re a beautiful culture.”

Yazzie said it takes a special gift to capture a moving audience.

“I do this all the time,” Yazzie said. “I do a lot of fairs and festivals. Most of the time, my audience is moving. To capture a moving audience takes a special knack for it.”

Larry Yazzie performs for the crowd at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Yazzie is also here to pay respect to the Ute Tribe, which ties into a current movement called the land acknowledgement.

“That is to acknowledge the land that we walk on, work on, pray on,” Yazzie said. “This is Ute Territory. I make an offering and give prayers and thank the ancestors for allowing me to be here to share my gift.”

Larry Yazzie performs for the crowd at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Yazzie is performing three times a day, three times a week in Glenwood, which makes for many miles to travel.

“I just drove over 900 miles to be here yesterday,” Yazzie said during an interview June 8.

“You’re going to see color, movement, a beautiful culture right here in your own backyard. Not to toot my own horn, but like I said earlier I have a knack to capture the audience, to educate them and entertain them at the same time.”

Larry Yazzie performs for the crowd at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

If there ever were a time to help educate folks, now is as good a time as ever, Yazzie said.

”This pandemic allowed us to look inside ourselves,” Yazzie said. “Many people look to the native philosophy of taking care of the land, and not desecrate it or destroy it so it’s there for generations to come. I sense that more and more people are tuning into our philosophy.”

If you go…

Larry Yazzie will be performing at 3 p.m, 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Friday at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park plaza through Labor Day.

For more information on Yazzie, visit his Tik ToK page at TikTok.com/@larryyazzie?lang=en.

Reporter Shannon Marvel can be reached at 605-350-8355 or smarvel@postindependent.com.