Acosia Red Elk, or Young Swan Rising From the Water, is a Champion Jingle Dress dancer from the Umatilla people. A descendant of Hin-mah-too-yah-lat-kekt, she did not become interested in dancing until she was 16, when she taught herself to dance from videos of other jingle dancers. Red Elk began dancing professionally in 1998 with her then-husband, Paris Leighton, visiting up to 50 powwows a year for ten years.
From 2004 to 2008 she won five world championships at the Gathering of Nations Powwow, she won again in 2011, 2014, and the 2015 competition, which she decided to enter at the last minute and had to sew a dress for the day before the competition. In 2005, she also won the Head Woman Dancer title; in 2014, having entered 8 competitions, she won all of them.
Our reporter Charlie Ballard visited with Acosia for a 4 part interview! Watch the
Watch the interview below!