important because they don't want the culture to die.
Q:How did you become a fancy dancer?
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?
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
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.
Are there still traditional moves in the Fancy Dance?
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.
How did you learn to dance?
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.
How did you design your current Fancy Dance regalia?
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].
How long did it take to make your regalia?
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
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.
How has maintaining your Native American heritage enriched your life?
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