Larry Yazzie and Christal Moose perform to inform about Native American culture
The performance of Larry Yazzie was promoted to students at UNC Charlotte as a Native American Dance concert, but it was so much more. Yazzie and manager/performer Christal Moose teamed together to take their audience on a musical and spiritual journey.
Before Moose introduced Yazzie, she took the time to tell her audience a little bit about their reservation culture and the issues that Native American people face every day, including the recent controversy at Standing Rock Indian Reservation in the Dakotas. She then sang a song in which she expressed her gratefulness towards water and dedicated it to the Native American tribe at Standing Rock and the controversy itself. Her tone was meaningful, somber, and she held the rooms attention in her voice.
When Larry Yazzie took the stage next, that attention didn’t waver. Throughout the show, the tone was meaningful. Yazzie began, after also speaking about Standing Rock and Native American culture, with a flute song. Like Moose, Yazzie dedicated his song to the tribes affected by the Dakota Pipeline Controversy. The song was beautiful. The slow, captivating tones of the flute transported the audience to their reservation. The room filled with a powerful mood. It was clear to the audience how much this performance meant to Yazzie and Moose.
Yazzie then dominated the stage with a dance. The beat of the drum pulsated throughout the room and through Yazzie as he danced. He was adorned in eagle wings, which seemed most appropriate when he “flew” in small circles around the stage. The performance was powerfully symbolic and after the dance concluded, Christal Moose took the stage again to tell the audience just how symbolic it was.
When a member of the audience asked her about the storytelling aspect of their culture and how that is included in their everyday lives, Moose replied, “Every day becomes our history; every day becomes a story.” She further explained that the dances they do, the songs they sing, every part of their life means something. Their songs and dances are prayers to their creator. She explained to the audience that the Native American people live very grateful lives. They don’t succumb to bitterness or anger at the past, but instead look at their history as a culture as powerful.
Moose then opened the eyes of many audience members by telling them that at the time of first contact, when Europeans came to North America, there were around 98 million Native Americans living in North America. However, because of disease and warfare, Native Americans are less than 1% of the United States population today. She said this is what makes the controversy at Standing Rock so huge, and why her and Yazzie feel it’s important to travel and educate people on Native American culture.
After answering questions from the audience, Moose and Yazzie encouraged everyone to get in a circle where Yazzie taught everyone in the room a Native American dance. Yazzie pointed out that the people in that circle were of different races, ethnicities, religions, and creeds, but came together in that moment to connect in dance. It was the perfect way to end a meaningful and touching performance by Larry Yazzie and Christal Moose.