The Hopi Community Mourns The Loss Of A Hoop Dancer

An accident has the potential to happen anytime to anyone at any time.  Indian country and many around the world were sent reeling after such a tragedy when one of the world’s most talented Native American hoop dancers fell to his death last week.

According to the story appearing on the Tucson.com website, Nakotah LaRance, who was of Hopi, Tewa, Navajo, and Assiniboine ancestry, tragically died on Sunday, July 12th after an accidental fall from a bridge in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico.

LaRance had been doing traditional dance since the age of five. The 30-year-old had been featured as the principal dancer in the Cirque du Soleil production, Totem, and was a part of the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and the Pan Am Games. LaRance had also worked in Steven Spielberg’s miniseries, Into the West. LaRance’s Hopi name was Lomasohu or “Handsome Star.”

Nakotah spent a great deal of time working with Native youth programs teaching others to dance with the precision and athleticism that hoop dancing demands.  Lynnae Lawrence, Nakotah’s aunt, used to make his dancing regalia and take him and his sister on the powwow trail during the summers spoke of her nephew’s great love of being a mentor to the next generation of hoop dancers.  

“He was always a kid at heart, and so it was natural that kids were attracted to him,” she said. “Everything was playful with Nakotah, and so he had the natural ability to teach kids.”

Steve LaRance, Nakotah’s father, said in a statement that his son’s death was accidental and that Nakotah would be “sent home in our traditional Pueblo / Hopi way.”  

On behalf of the Zanes Law Firm partners and staff, we would like to extend our deepest condolences to the LaRance family, friends, and the Hopi Nation who mourn his passing.


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