Christal Moose
The Native Pride Dancers

Native Pride Dancers Journey Is Just Beginning

Tish Leizens

For Native Pride Dancers, a Minnesota-based group formed in 2003 by World Champion Fancy Dancer Larry Yazzie, the journey through song and dance is just about to cross borders as they travel the distance to express themselves.

It is perhaps due to Yazzie, 45, the visionary, that keeps the troupe known for its high-energy, colorful shows that blend modern and traditional Native American dance, always moving forward.

“My vision has always been to perform overseas. There are lots of potential to branch out to different parts of the country too,” said Yazzie. “My dream is to reach higher, to collaborate with other artists outside of our Native culture like hip hop and rock.”

International travel is something they have done. They have done shows in Europe and the Middle East for years. Yazzie said that after a recent performance in Jordan, some inquiries have been made for them to come to Egypt and Israel.

Here at home, the troupe’s credits include dancing at the Atlanta Summer Olympics, the Kennedy Center, Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, NBA halftime events, and festivals and pow wows throughout the U.S.

Yazzie’s younger brother, Arlan Whitebreast, 40, a grass dancer, who has been with the group for eight years, has not gone on international tours yet but thinks along the same line as Yazzie when it comes to the direction the troupe is heading.

“I think we are on the tip of an iceberg. We have not yet fully developed to what we can be. Personally, I want to see more big venues, theaters and overseas shows,” he said.

Last year, in September, Whitebreast said they did something unlike their regular pow wow shows and theatrical stage performances. The troupe collaborated with Grammy Award winner Joanne Shenandoah, Oneida Nation, on a music video.

“There is a lot of potential for that,” Whitebreast said, referring to dancing for the Native singer in the video.

Whitebreast and Yazzie and another brother—not involved with Native Pride Dancers—grew up in Tama, Iowa and raised in the traditions of Meskwaki/Diné culture by their mother and stepfather.

Their stepfather, a fancy dancer who taught the boys to dance, passed away two years ago. Aside from Whitebreast, Yazzie has called on his son Jessup, 13, and Samarra, 6, and aunt, Dana Davenporte, to perform with them.

The core group is composed of eight members, including the family members. Depending on the venue and the event, they can travel with a larger group of 15 or more.

They dance a variety, such as, fancy, hoop, chicken, grass, men’s northern traditional, womens’ fancy shawl , womens’ jingle and womens’ traditional.

Jessup is a boys’ northern style fancy dancer. He has been dancing since he was two years old when he won his first trophy in Roseau, Canada. When he was three, he won another one at the Gathering of Nations in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

I enjoy helping other people feel good through my dance and inspiring other kids to be open minded and learn about other cultures,” he said.

Yazzie said another young member of the family is following their steps. “My little granddaughter, Sade Kapayou, danced with us last summer at a production at the Meskwaki Convention Center in Tama, Iowa.”

“Our group is inspirational, majestic, beautiful, entertaining, interactive, and funny.  Our dancers are champion dancers and we’ve also taken young dancers in and assisted in developing them to move forward with their dancing,” said Yazzie.

“A big part of our program are the stories behind the dancing, about us and who we are as Natives,” said Whitebreast.

“We make it really personal. We just don’t go up and dance. We break it down; we inform and educate you,” he said. “Dancing is one aspect. It is important to be able to reach out, to inspire you to do something good in your life.”

Meanwhile, Yazzie, the Native Pride Dancers founder, is already reaching out. Aside from being an actor, a desire to collaborate with other artists, he also wants get into flute music recording. When he says that the troupe’s fan base better take note.

His brother said it best: “What we do is a small piece of who we are and what we could be.”


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jLangdeaux's picture
Submitted by jLangdeaux on
Lakota Dancing is brought to Life to bring Peace..As it Always has been the Center of this. Mitaukuya Oyasin.

Martha Farrellbegg's picture
Martha Farrellbegg
Submitted by Martha Farrellbegg on
AWESOME, beautiful and what a wonderful outreach to the world.....thank you and I would love t see your group tour the United States and give us all an opportunity to witness this wonderful and informative and entertaining lesson in culture....BRAVO!

Martha Farrellbegg's picture
Martha Farrellbegg
Submitted by Martha Farrellbegg on
AWESOME, beautiful and what a wonderful outreach to the world.....thank you and I would love t see your group tour the United States and give us all an opportunity to witness this wonderful and informative and entertaining lesson in culture....BRAVO!

Christal Moose
Christal Moose
Submitted by Christal Moose on
Thank you for the excellent article! For more information regarding Larry Yazzie and the Native Pride Dancers go to or email us at or

Deborah Ackley's picture
Deborah Ackley
Submitted by Deborah Ackley on
Native American song and dance is so spiritual, and soul lifting. It is wonderful that it can be shared with the world. Hopefully the message of peace they bring with them will help to heal the world. Thank you for helping those of us who can not sing or dance to be apart of your world.

indianmedicine's picture
Submitted by indianmedicine on
When I was in Military Service in The Mid East, there was serious interest by Mid Easterners in The Western History and People of The United States. The Mid East Children were in Awe of Native Americans & The Western Cow Boy's - to the point that they would mimic as a form of flattery. My nephew conducted a "Feather Ceremony" with the Mid Eastern Forces attached to the US Command he served in - and they were "IMPRESSED" by NAI Culture & Ceremony of Recognition. It made a "life time memory" for them. The NAI Warrior Culture & Native Women say much for themselves, and the Regalia makes a "Child's Eye's Open Wide With Wonder". Thank you for being Ambassador's of Good Will for our Nation as a whole. -De Oppresso Liber-

krista  jenkins's picture
krista jenkins
Submitted by krista jenkins on
i love native american indians they have beautiful costumes and jewlary

ira makes him first jr.'s picture
ira makes him f...
Submitted by ira makes him f... on
Hey larry its me tahshni toka ho I GOT a tour coming up on 4 26 13 looking 4 dncrs bahamamas tokyo itly paris london tha queen bahamas back 2 us 4 powwow in black hills r u in my brother from another from another mutha its a perfect oppuntiny 4 u bro cash in volve homie 4 real ..........