important because they don't want the culture to die.
Q:How did you become a fancy dancer?
A: Ever since I started going to pow wows, fancy dancing is just something I've
wanted to do. It was just fun and fast and different. Not a lot of people do it
around here. I looked at some pictures, saved up my money and started working
on it. I made a lot of mistakes, but it was worth it, because now it is more
Q: What is the history behind the fancy dance?
A: It started in the 1920s by the Ponca people in Oklahoma. People would come
out to see these Wild West shows by the busloads and a lot of the guys running
the shows wanted the guys to dance fast and they called it a war dance. They
weren't going to war or anything but they just did it because it sounded cool and it
got people's attention. It's still traditional, but it started as a way to get attention.
Around the same time, contests started and [the dancers] started changing their
moves to get the judge's attention.
Q: Are there still traditional moves in the Fancy Dance?
A: Almost all the dances have the basic step, the 1-2 step, because the drumbeat
has a hard beat and a soft beat and you dance to that. When you play the drum
it's like the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Whether you hear it or not, there's a hard
beat and a soft beat just like your heart.
Q: How did you learn to dance?
A: I learned by watching. That was the most important thing. I watched the best
dancers in the world and tried to do what they did. I put my own interpretations
into everything, and my style changes depending on the song, but I watched the
champion dancers and basically did what they did. I also watched dance videos.
They are really helpful too.
Q: How did you design your current Fancy Dance regalia?
A: I watched and studied other dancers. The basic Fancy Dance regalia has two
bustles on your back, two arm bustles, aprons, a cape, moccasins, bells, and
angora anklets. After that you can make them as fancy or as plain as you want. I
tried to use things important to me. Green is my favorite color, and purple is my
Mom's. The bright colors attract people's attention. There's definitely a lot of
modern influences. My Dad designed the beaded pattern, it has Cherokee
influences. There are four feathers on my cape for the four directions [North,
South, East, and West].
Q: How long did it take to make your regalia?
A: I made the back bustles for my Senior Exhibition Project at my High School. We
had to do some research, make something that took at least 18 hours, and write a
paper on it. It took me two hours every day for a month just to build the bustles.
I put in well over 18 hours. I kind of sweet talked my Mom to help make the rest
of the regalia because it takes a while, over 100 hours. My Dad did some of the
beadwork. We worked on it every night for about three months. I got everything
done in March, and then the beaded moccasins I got as a graduation present. My
parents bought them from a family friend.
Q: How has maintaining your Native American heritage enriched your life?
A: I've learned a lot. It kind of keeps me out of trouble. I don't know that I'd be
different necessarily without this, but when you sing at the drum you can't drink or