News from MIAC/Lab

2nd Annual Nakotah LaRance Memorial Youth Hoop Dance Championship drawing young Native American competitors to the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture in Santa Fe

AUGUST 1, 2023

Santa Fe, NM  A wish is coming true for Hoop Dancer Valentino Tzigiwhaeno Rivera, Pojoaque Pueblo (2008-2016). From the time he was a boy, his dream was that all Native young people could learn the traditional dance. He was inspired by dancer Nakotah LaRance ( (Hopi-Tewa) who is credited for bringing the Native American Hoop Dance back to New Mexico where it is flourishing in the state with hundreds of participants. But it’s not just exciting people here. 

 Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is partnering with the Lighting Boy Foundation to host the 2nd Annual Nakotah LaRance Memorial Youth Hoop Dance Championship on Aug. 5 and 6. The event is already drawing competitors up to the age of 26 from across the country and Canada. 

 “We understand the importance that collaboration plays in building relationships with our communities," said Polly Nordstrand, the Executive Director of Museum of Indian Arts and Culture. “It is a pleasure to host the 2nd Annual Nakotah LaRance Memorial Youth Hoop Dance Championship in support of the Native youth from across the US and Canada.” 

 The Nakotah LaRance Memorial Youth Hoop Dance Championship is a two-day weekend event that runs from to 9 to 5 daily and features two days of youth dance competition. A panel discussion on the history of hoop dance will take place Friday, Aug. 4 from 1-3 p.m. with Dennis Bowen, Sr. (Seneca), Ginger Sykes Torres (Diné), Benito Concho (Taos Pueblo) and Derek Davis (Hopi/Choctaw). Presenters will discuss the origin of hoop dance, the symbolism with the dance and cultural significance. 

 You’ll find information and registration details for the 2nd Annual Nakotah LaRance Memorial Youth Hoop Dance Championship at 

 About the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture 

The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and our donors. The mission of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology is to serve as a center of stewardship, knowledge, and understanding of the artistic, cultural, and intellectual achievements of the diverse peoples of the Native Southwest.   

 About Lightening Boy Foundation 

The Lightning Boy Foundation was established in 2017 in honor of Valentino ‘Tzigiwhaeno’ Rivera, (Pojoaque Pueblo), who at age four, watched Nakotah LaRance (Hopi/Assiniboine) perform the traditional Native American hoop dance routine and fell in love with the art form, spending the rest of his life participating in traditional Pueblo dances, traditional hoop dancing, hip hop and breakdancing. Valentino passed away at age eight, following a serious auto accident and 14 subsequent surgeries, and four years later his master instructor Nakotah LaRance also passed in an accident.  His family and the Foundation organized the Memorial Hoop Dance Competition as a way of honoring Nakotah’s legacy.