Tracy Tanyan Jr. continues his family’s dancing legacy

A Native American student’s passion for dancing educates others

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Photo Courtesy of the Tanyan Family & Friends

Performing in Scissortail Park, junior Tracy Tanyan Jr. placed in the Men’s Grass finals.

DRUM! DA! DRUM!

Bouncing to the beat of the drum, junior Tracy Tanyan Jr. shines like a star at his first-ever powwow. Tanyan Jr. first fell in love with powwows (Native American dances) around age six. Being surrounded by this culture his whole life, Tanyan Jr. was not shy to jump into the spotlight. His passion, love-to-learn and progress sprouted rapidly as he watched his family. Tanyan Jr. progressed exponentially as if he was meant to do this.

“I’ve been doing this ever since I first started to walk and haven’t stopped since, it’s one of the things that truly brings me happiness, ” Tanyan Jr. said.

The Tanyan family legacy is of successful dancers, whose presence still flows strongly within him and his siblings. When he was young, it was evident there was something special about Tanyan Jr. and dancing. As he continued dancing, he set a goal to succeed his older brother, Dan Tanyan. Dan played a big role in the Tanyan Jr.’s growth, from helping his little brother on the floor to supporting him in life. Having someone to compete with only deepened Tanyan Jr.’s hunger to improve.

Around age seven is when it really got more competitive to me. It felt great to be as good, if not better than my brother who is a well-known dancer.”

— Tracy Tanyan Jr.

Dan admitted that Tanyan Jr. progressed even quicker than he did when he was growing up. He has never seen Tanyan Jr. with fear in his eye. His goal never changed.

“Around age seven is when it really got more competitive to me. It felt great to be as good, if not better than my brother who is a well-known dancer,” Tanyan Jr. said.

He believes it is crucial to spread the ways of his people, especially after all the trauma they have been through. To him, this art form is a perfect way for him and his people to share their culture with the rest of the world. Being a part of the Ioway Tribe of Oklahoma and Seminole Nation as well as the Blackfeet Nation, Tanyan Jr. takes pride in educating others and proudly representing his beloved culture. With a passion, he intends to pass this art down many generations to come.

“His passion for dancing, athletics and even life is something I’ve always admired. He always keeps a positive outlook on life and doesn’t deter from what he believes in. I respect that,” Dan said.

Participating in powwows all over Oklahoma led him to win in 2019 the Men’s Grass Dance Special in Quapaw.

“It was amazing and an experience I’ll always remember for the rest of my life,” Tanyan Jr. said.

He has recently become the face of the newly opened First American Museum in Oklahoma City, which promotes awareness and educates the broader public about the first American nations.

Tying little Tanyan’s roach, Dan Tanyan saw his little eight-year-old brother perform at a Witchita powwow. (Photo Courtesy of the Tanyan Family and Friends)

“My biggest accomplishment is being able to be part of the First American Museum in OKC. It truly was special to represent my culture to such a big audience,” Tanyan Jr. said.

From first entering the dance arena in Perkins, Oklahoma at the Ioway Tribal Powwow to being the face on a momentous museum, Tanyan Jr.’s beliefs and love for dancing continues today. Every time he steps on the floor for a powwow, he has the same excitement he did when he was an eager kid.