Native Profile – Toni Tsatoke

Native Profile – Toni Tsatoke

What is your full name?
Toni Tsatoke

What tribe are you?

What is your nickname?
My close friends refer to me as the Pictionary Champ
ain't that right Ruben Littlehead? haha

Where are you originally from?

Where are you living now?

Are you married or single (or it s complicated)?
Newly married

What are the powwows you plan to attend this year?
I usually go to Denver & GON every year and plan to go to Livingston, Mayetta, Muckleshoot, Prairie Island, some Cali powwows, Kinder, and Durant.

What are your favorite powwows to attend?
Some of my favorites are Crow Fair, Denver, PI, and GON. The powwows I enjoy most are ones that give dancers some free time to enjoy the area we are visiting.

What are your favorite drum groups?
IDK, it changes some drums just really sing the most beautiful songs (and the right tempo) for Southern Buckskin. Those are the songs we wait for so we can really showcase our dance.

What style(s) do you dance?
Southern Traditional

Who do you consider good dancers in your category(s)?
That s really hard to say because in our category the outfits are equally important to actual dancing because the dresses identify us and aspects of each dress have distinct meaning. There are a lot of ladies from where I am  from that are great dancers and that I admire, but don't compete in powwows. But for powwow contests, when I first really started trying to travel around and compete- Shayne, Danielle, and Tooky pretty much dominated my category and I admire each one of them as dancers. Today there are so many up & coming dancers. I'd have to leave that up to the judges because I wouldn't want to discourage anyone.

How do you train?
Yeah, I walk really slow (jk) I like going to Zumba classes. I dance southern buckskin & even my husband says, I don t know how you guys can get tired or out of breath lol but it does require a lot of leg strength & I guess upper body to some extent because the weight of the dress can move you & you have to keep composure no matter what. So I think I dance better or maybe i just feel better when I'm  in better shape.

Who makes your outfits?
I can't credit for my outfits because several Kiowa beadworkers help me bring it all together. Really they are artists. People like Jr. Mcdaniels, Daneta Kauley, Cynthia Ahtone, Freddy Cozad, Donna Jean Tsatoke, and Kathy Tohay, who is the granddaughter of the late Alice Littleman, have made things for me. I really respect & appreciate them because they are so talented at what they do…I bead some, but it doesn t hold a candle to their work. Cara Purdy cut out my blue and yellow dresses. I can cut dresses now, but I always get my fringes from Cara.

What transportation do you use to travel to powwows?

Drive, fly or ride with others. I have a little gas-saver (car) so if it s 12 hours or less, I usually drive.

Will gas prices or other obligations affect your traveling to powwows this year?
Yeah, they can, but if I'm determined to go somewhere I will find a way lol some people might think its weird that I travel by myself a lot, but when you are an only child you are used to doing stuff by yourself so its not weird to me. Plus if I change my plans or am running late or something like that, it doesn't affect anyone else. With obligations I just try to go whenever possible sometimes I have to be at home for our tribal dances or if my family has an obligation, but in those cases I don't feel like I'm missing anything & there s no other place that I'd rather be.With work, it s just a balance…Some weekends I have to stick closer to home, when there's a big powwow going on, but that's okay because I had a lot of years of going everywhere, so I'm good either way.

What is your favorite music to listen to?
There haven't been any new artists (in a long time) that I really like. I like powerful voices & music with a message. I like Yolanda Adams, Alicia Keys, Maxwell, Musiq Soulchild. People like that. I also enjoy music that reminds me of my mom so when I'm driving alone i like to sing along (and loud) to Al Green, Marvin Gaye, and Earth Wind & Fire. People like that.

What domestic skills or trade do you have?
Ilove to bake & decorate cakes. I also enjoy designing/creating stuff on the computer–look out rusty(jk) I'm not that good!

What do you do when you re not powwowing?
I work at OU and other than that, I'm spending time with friends & family. I also work with kids @ church.

What is your favorite food?
My fav NDN food is dried corn & frybread and I could live on fried potatoes. I also love BBQ (Van's Pig stand, Jack's and John's & Cooke s are my favorites),I have a big sweet tooth, so I love cherry limeades from Braums & chocolate dipped cones from Dairy Queen.

Advice you would give to young people who look up to you?
I would tell young people to never let anyone treat you like you are inferior or less than or because god has a plan for everyone and he can make a path for you even when it seems like everything else is against you.

Is there anything you would like to share or for people to know about you?
I just really feel blessed for all of the experiences I've had and for all of the people in this powwow family. I don't take anything or any of you for granted. I wish everyone safe travels and hope to meet you somewhere along the way.

Last Updated on November 26, 2015 by Paul G

3 Comments on “Native Profile – Toni Tsatoke”

  • Avatar for BlackfootMama



    Toni, There have been few times in my life where I can honestly say I’ve seen something so beautiful that it made me cry. Well having seen the photos and videos of your dancing, this is one of those times. You truly have a rare gift.I am nearly 40 and have never had the pleasure to attend a powwow in my lifetime, but if I ever have that opportunity, I hope I will catch a glimpse of you & the others dancing. Thank You for all you do.

  • Avatar for Mary E.

    Mary E.


    Hi Toni, I so love watching you dance…you are so graceful and dance with pride as a Native Woman. I have shared with Shkebe that you are my favourite dancer out there. Hope to see you somewhere on the pow wow trail. Meegwetch!

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