The Wheeler Opera House is excited to present a special afternoon matinee performance by Native Pride Productions on Sunday, December 3rd at 1:30 PM.  This performance will showcase an innovative blend of modern and traditional Native American dance styles. Feel the excitement and experience the artistry of Native Pride Productions dancers as they perform flamboyant movements passed down by their ancestors through song and dance.

“We’re excited to present Larry Yazzie and the Native Pride Dancers in this special Sunday matinee performance,” says Lisa Rigsby Peterson, executive director of the Wheeler Opera House. “This same weekend, we will welcome Aspen Indigenous Foundation back to the Wheeler for the 5th Annual Shining Mountains Film Festival on Friday, December 1 and Saturday, December 2. When we can present complementary programming alongside our rental partners, we can truly see the impact and connections the Wheeler creates in our community.”

Native Pride Productions “Inspired by Tradition. Powered by Dance.” 
Sunday, December 3, 2023 | 1:30 PM

Native Pride’s performances incorporate information about the dances, the regalia (dress), and the meaning and importance of the dances and utilize traditional and contemporary music to engage audience members. Audience members can expect to see dancers in beautiful Native American regalia, including vivid assortments of brightly colored ribbons, feathers, beads, and furs – all of which honor their nations’ elders and the legacy of their traditional arts.

Founder and Artistic Director of Native Pride Productions, two-time World Champion Fancy Dancer, Men’s Northern Traditional Dancer, and Eagle Dancer Larry Yazzie (Meskwaki, Dine) grew up on the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama, Iowa where he learned the traditional ways of his ancestors.

“By sharing life stories through music, dance, and storytelling, we nurture meaningful communication among all people.”  – Larry Yazzie

Based in Jacksonville, Florida, Native Pride Productions perform locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Notable stage performances include appearances at the Walker Art Center, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Cowles Center, Reif Performing Arts Center, the Olympic Games, The Kennedy Center, and the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC and New York City.

Yazzie’s versatility is also exemplified by invitations to accompany several modern rock and pop bands including Dirtwire and Portugal the Man on stage as a featured artist and special guest. Most recently, Larry received recognition from Billboard Magazine for his performance with Dirtwire at the Gem & Jam Festival in Tucson, Arizona.

Yazzie has created a platform for Indigenous Performing Artists to share their talent with the world. He leads a dynamic talent roster of cultural educators, musicians, dancers, and singers who are members of numerous tribal nations including Meskwaki, Navajo, Dakota, Lakota, Ojibwe, Lumbee, Cree, Pueblo, Choctaw, and Chickasaw, to name a few. Native Pride also collaborates with many established and up-and-coming artists throughout Indian country and from the mainstream stage.

The Native Pride Dancers’ mission is to educate, inspire, motivate, and empower diverse Communities to bridge cultural gaps through Indigenous traditions.

5th Annual Shining Mountains Film Festival
Friday, December 1, 2023 | 6 PM
Saturday, December 2, 2023 | 2 PM & 6 PM

Presented by the Aspen Indigenous Foundation,  the Shining Mountains Film Festival was started in 2019 to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the City of Aspen passing a resolution removing the celebration of Columbus Day and replacing it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Through films/documentaries produced, and directed, stories told by Native Americans – First Nations’ voices, the festival provides a platform to educate non-Indian communities about the true history, genocide, challenges, and struggles as well as sharing the rich Native culture, talents, wisdom, and traditional ways. Thus, breaking the stereotypes, and shining light on the reality of what has been done to the Indigenous Peoples since colonization, the ongoing racism, and systemic injustice. In recognizing all the talents, and positive and unique impacts that the Indigenous Peoples contribute to the world, showing that a strong spiritual connection with Mother Earth and all beings leads to a balanced and harmonious world.

The festival opens with a Blessing Prayer by a Ute tribe member. We aim to bring as many film directors, producers, and talent for live Q&A after each screening. There is also a live dance performance exhibition and genuine Native art for sale in the lobby area. This is an award film festival with Best Long, Best Short, and Audience Choice.

Aspen Indigenous Foundation’s mission is to increase awareness in the Roaring Fork Valley of Indigenous presence, history, and wisdom through cultural exchange and community education; to support tribal members and grassroots Indigenous programs that facilitate social and economic development opportunities