100th Annual Meskwaki Nation Powwow Recap PLUS Interview with the Emcees

Posted By Toyacoyah Brown August 11th, 2014 Last Updated on: August 11th, 2014


I was so jealous this weekend. I kept seeing pictures of frybread pop up in my Instagram feed all weekend. Everyone seemed to be out and about to celebrate 100 years of the Meskwaki Nation Pow Wow! Our friend Bob Uhl with Midwest Powwows Blog was there to capture the event on film and had the chance to interview pow wow emcees Larry Yazzie and Ben Bear. Let's read more from Bob and see some great images below.


Emcees Larry Yazzie & Ben Bear, Meskwaki Nation Powwow

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.

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 Bear Dance to name a few.


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


The Bear 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



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 www.midwestpowwows.blogspot.com


Bob Uhl

Amazing that it's at 100 years and going strong! Thanks again for sharing Bob!

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About Toyacoyah Brown

Toyacoyah Brown is an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation, currently living in Chicago. She received her B.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and an M.A. in Media Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. When she's not scouring the Internet for fun things to share with PowWows.com readers you can find her digging for vinyl in her local record store or curling up with a good book.

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Bob Uhl

My apologies. The Dance Labeled the Bear Dance should have been the Buffalo Head Dance. Just one of those misprints. Again, my apologies.
Bob Uhl
Midwest Powwows


Correction: The photo captioned The Bear Dance is actually the Buffalo Head Dance.

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