Wash. - "Lay down and take a nap," he said to his three-year-old
daughter. "But dad I have to go potty," she said in
a pleading tone. The husband looked at his wife and a silent communication
passed between them as she laid her beadwork aside to attend to
the little one.
is a typical family scene that is played out between pow wow competition
dances for Fancy Dancer Rainbow Azure and his wife Varinia. Their
ten-year marriage has produced four little girls that have been
raised on the pow wow trail.
pow wow culture has been an intimate part of Azure's life for
more than 31 years. He has won many awards and took seventh place
for Men's Fancy Dancing in 1997 at the World Championships
in Connecticut. His life has been a well-rounded mixture of education,
work and play, as well as the bumpy road of hardships.
realized in high school that education was important but I wanted
to travel and see Indian country so I traveled to various pow wows
throughout North America," he said.
desire to join the national pow wow circuit was born during Azure's
am Chippewa-Yakama. I grew up on and off the Yakama Reservation
and began dancing around age 10. I danced Men's Traditional,
Grass and Fancy Dancing. My mom, Vera Mesplie, gave me the opportunity
to learn my culture by teaching her children arts and crafts and
how to make our own regalia. She taught me the importance of knowing
who I am and where I come from," he explained.
faced the challenge of alcohol at an early age. He said, "About
18 I began drinking. My dad was an alcoholic. He went into recovery
about 20 years ago and hasn't had a drink since. In 1989 I
decided to change my life. I didn't want my future children
to see me with alcohol in my system. I wanted to be the best husband
and father as possible, clean and sober."
call to clean living was inspired in part by his wife. "After
traveling the circuit for 10 years, I decided to start a family
and began looking for that special person. I found her on my mother's
Yakama reservation. Varinia or Vee is Yakama and is my companion.
She has been very supportive of my alcohol recovery," he said
with a contented look.
and Vee began their family and Azure soon realized that he needed
to provide for them in a good way.
elders on the Yakama Reservation stress the importance of education
in today's society which they say allows us as Native people
to be competitive with non-native people. In 1992 I decided to go
to college. However, I thought my family was more important than
education so I only went part time so I could be with my children
during their bonding years. I received my bachelor's of science
in the combined sciences of Chemistry and Biology in 2001. In 2003
I was granted my Washington State Teaching Certificate in the fields
of chemistry, biology, all sciences and math which has enabled me
to teach my endorsed areas," he stated.
is presently teaching grades 8 -12 at the Yakama National Tribal
said in a serious tone, "I like teaching the Native youth and
sharing my life experiences with them. This shows them they can
reach their goals and dreams. My ultimate goals are to receive my
master's in Science and possibly a doctorate."
the new generation of pow wow dancers he says, "Remember who
you are, where you come from and where you want to go with your
life to share with future generations. Always remember your family
comes first. Learn your culture and your Native language which will
allow us to survive as our ancestors survived."