photos by Meegan M Reed | Kitsap Sun | Actor & Comedian Tatanka Means speaks at Kingston High School
“I liked how you used your own personal experiences in your jokes and stories, that you’re, “tall, native, and all somehow”, I was laughing throughout the whole show.”
Keola Lefthand - student
“Mr. Means, you are a hilarious man! Thank you for making me laugh. I haven’t laughed like that in awhile. I liked your childhood jokes. Stay funny!”
Shania Russell - student
“Tatanka, you were very funny and had a good impression on our school.”
Sione Fifita - student
“You’re show was so awesome! Very funny and you addressed serious topics that were inspiring. What a great show!”
Chelsey Black - student
“Tatanka, your performance here at Page High School was so funny. I liked how you talked about the reservation in a humorous way. Thank you for your inspiration to our school.”
Thomleanna Begay - student
"Tatanka Means reminded me how lucky I am to be Native. It was a kick to my funny bone over and over, like a strong cup of grandmas coffee! Above all, he stood for self-confidence, pride, and honor in our Native roots. Thanks"
Chandler P. - student
"Having Tatanka Means come here was very interesting for one thing because he's from the rez and I'm from the rez. I honestly didn't think a Native could do it big but Tatanka showed me the way bro. And thank you I hope you come back because honestly man you had us 'hanging off our seats' and had our stomach's in knots. Thank you"
Javier "The Ute Man" - juvenile treatment center
"You know you helped me because I always wanted to tell people what life is really about. I know there are a lot of people who don't know what life is about. But you knew, I almost cried because a lot of people give up in life and many people quit their jobs and they end up on the street. I think many people don't see the outside world because they're repeating the cycle like drinking everyday and feeling helpless. But I really want to put this out there just to be a good reminder. Thank you"
Brice C. - juvenile treatment center
"Tatanka Means is an intelligent and bright young man. He's a man of many talents and one of the is comedy. He had me laughing so hard I almost fell out of my chair."
Ismel - student
"Having Tatanka Means invited was a blast. A Native from the reservation to a Hollywood star was eye opening. Native's can fulfill dreams!
Brendan C. - student
"The things that inspired me is that you really spoke up to us and that even if you fall in life that there is still light at the end of the tunnel. Whether you're Mexican American or Native American you could be what ever you want to be. Thank you for the motivation speech"
Cesar - juvenile treatment center
"We deeply appreciate the time you took out of your schedule to come and speak to us. The jokes you told were phenomenal and had my peers laughing all night. We would love to have you back any day! Thank you for your time"
MJ - student
"Mr Means was very inspirational as well as motivational when he gave a talk to us. It motivates me to get out of the system and do good in life and show my children the right path in life. Thank you for everything, we would love to have you back."
Juan W. - juvenile treatment center
"Having Tatanka was a great experience! I really enjoyed his sense of humor and he really make me laugh."
Cesar M. - student
"Mr Means, you inspired me to live my dreams and to accomplish them to the fullest!!! Thank you for your advice, encouragement and time."
Ivan L. - juvenile treatment center
"From my perspective I think that it is good to be coming all this way to give us people as young youth some good advice, some hope and some knowledge from what he had went through and let it sink into our minds and let it bleed out into our daily routine to the right path of goodness and righteousness to the good freedom that we have. To me he let me know life is short and precious to live it up to not dwell into the bad things that happened but to push forward. It is great to have someone that challenged to open more hope to the ones that don't have it. I thank you for coming to visit us and having a good time speaking to us."
Demetri G. - juvenile treatment center
"Having Tatanka Means at SIENA's 5th Annual Take Charge! - Native American Leadership Today conference was the highlight of the event! Tatanka had his audience in stitches with his spot-on delivery of comedy relating to Native American life on and off the reservation. In addition, his motivational speech made a positive impact on the youth and adults alike. We would love to have Tatanka back again anytime."
Executive Director, S.I.E.N.A
"The National Johnson-O'Malley Association had Tatanka Means as our keynote speaker in April during our national conference. We have a diverse group of members, from students to elders and each of them were able to hear an inspirational message along with lots of laughter from his great humor and wit. Our membership and students love him, and he is truly a great role model for our JOM youth!"
National Johnson-O'Malley Association
“Tatanka Means left us wanting more! We could have listened to him all night long. It was a hilarious performance full of side-splitting humor, outrageous energy, and hysterical native humor. He also brought a wonderful sense of community to our Salt Lake Community College Campus, and was definitely the highlight of Native American Heritage Month. We will definitely invite him back for an encore performance!”
-AISL American Indian Student Leadership Club
Salt Lake Community College
“Having Tatanka as our school’s guest speaker for Native American Heritage Month was an honor to say the least. He has such a way with the students, and perfectly blends humor with his message. What I loved even more was that he made sure he took the time to see every student or adult that wanted to meet him after his speech and left an amazing impression on everyone in attendance. He certainly is a role model for today’s youth and we would love to bring him back again if given the opportunity!”
Kingston High School
“Tatanka Means began our Families Learning Summit 2016 as the featured speaker at the opening session. He was so generous with his time, connecting with our 700 conference participants, sharing personal stories, while inspiring and motivating over 100 American Indian teachers in the audience. His humor and real-life, inspirational experiences were so motivational to the many teachers and administrators in the audience. He spent over three hours after his speech with our American Indian participants who were very honored to have conversation and picture taking time with one of their famous role models.”
(FACE/NCFL) President and Founder
National Center for Families Learning
"This was a very mission-centric endeavor, and Tatanka was gracious throughout, visiting more than 700 students and educators at three venues in a single day. At each venue, Tantanka was masterful at engaging the audience, weaving life events into his inspirational message and providing insight into his most current project, Saints & Strangers. He also signed promotional posters at each event, which the students loved. Thanks for inviting us to screen Saints & Strangers. Tatanka was such a delight, and a tremendous ambassador on so many levels, I am quite certain his reach and message will only grow in scope and impact."
Director of Education
The Durham Museum | Omaha, NE
"As part of the weeklong Elders and Youth gathering and Alaska Federation of Natives activities held in Fairbanks this year, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium hosted the fourth annual THRIVE! event that inspires wellness through Native humor, art and media. There were several very talented local acts including Alaska Native dancers and singers. Tatanka Means headlined the event and the laughter never stopped during his performance. The audience really identified with his jokes about life as a Native American and enjoyed hearing about his perspectives on Alaska. ANTHC hopes to continue this collaboration to bring Tatanka's spectacular humor and performance to our communities."
-Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium
"Tatanka Means exceeded our expectations as the headline entertainment for the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation’s Healthy Kids! Healthy Futures! Gala. His set was hilarious and he had our guests in stitches. Our guests did not stop talking about how much fun they had!"
NB3 Marketing Coordinator
Notah Begay III Foundation
"We were so pleased to have Tatanka Means as the keynote speaker at our 13th annual conference! He helped lighten the mood, brought lots of laughs to our attendees and had an inspirational message. We thoroughly enjoyed his performance and the time he shared to take photos and sign autographs."
-Travois Indian Country Affordable Housing & Economic Development Conference
"What a treat! Tatanka Means brought much needed levity to a serious topic at the 2017 National Forum on Dropout Prevention for Native and Tribal Communities in Scottsdale, Arizona this week. His heartfelt stories of his own struggles as a Native American youth were delivered to more than 300 attendees with his trademark humor and enthusiasm. As always, Tatanka made himself available to everyone who wanted an autograph and a photo with him. They were still talking about him days later! His presence on a day that featured Native American youth was even more impactful as he connected to issues many of these students face as they navigate through their own challenging circumstances. As an embodiment of resiliency and achievement, Tatanka Means will always be a wonderful role model for America’s indigenous youth and an eye-opener to the people who educate them."
- Nadine Groenig
Director of Indian Education
Policy Development & Government Relations
Arizona Department of Education
"Having Tatanka Means at the Oneida Nation Get Out the Vote Rally held on September 15, 2016 was the one of the major draws for attendance. Tatanka’s energy, quick wit, and great Native humor had the crowd rolling with laughter. He can find the humor in everyday life of Natives so many can relate. If laughter truly is the best medicine, Tatanka will be known as a comedian and a healer in no time. AYEEEEEEE!!!"
Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Communications
"Tatanka Means smashed it! He left everyone laughing all through the week. Mr. Means greeted our community with open arms as if he had been part of our community all his life. Brother, I would welcome you back anytime!"
Colorado River Indian Tribes
"We were fortunate to have Tatanka Means as our guest speaker for our inaugural "Aspiration of Hoop" on behalf of South Mountain Community College. Our scholarship program serves Native American high school students within Maricopa County. Students are able to get acclimated into higher education, earn college credits, and reinforce a sense of cultural empowerment within an urban environment. Tatanka's presentation was perfect for our students. He was able to speak to them through comedy, and create a comfortable space for students to listen. His storytelling style was very personable, and filled with humility. With his humbleness the students were able to connect to his story and relate it to themselves. Intertwining both humor and positive messaging he was able to show the students that we are all capable of breaking the Native stereotypes and creating a world we want to live in. To conclude his visit he stayed for pictures and autographs until all attendees left. Tatanka is a sincere role model for our students and for our Native communities."
American Indian Outreach
South Mountain Community College, American Indian Institute
"Mr. Means is a genuine, humble, wise, young man. He transcends into a motivating comedian excellent at telling stories while making people feel good inside. The first time seeing Tatanka perform was at a youth conference at Pechanga, CA. I have never seen an individual grab the attention of both old and young people. Taking them on a motivating, enjoyable, and funny ride that left us wanting more. He puts the gr8t in N8tive. Mr. Means brings a powerful message of hope and instills confidence in the lives of our ever important youth. He represents the native people while bringing honor to them."
Morongo Tribal TANF
"I’m the co-facilitator for our annual, Honoring Our Elder’s Conference. One of my main job duties is to ensure that our elders here on the Red Lake Reservation have a GREAT time when they attend our conference.
Every year I wonder how I’m going to ensure our elders have as great of a time as the previous year. While this year we out did ourselves thanks to booking Tatanka Means as our keynote speaker to perform for us. The elders, youth, and volunteers loved him! Tatanka was charismatic, funny, smart, and knowledgeable of our culture and did a great job adapting his performance to accommodate our audience. Tatanka was very amusing, all the participants got their endorphins going; Tatanka also motivated our elders to share their knowledge with their peers, and to honor themselves.
Last year was our 4th annual conference; I’ve not re-booked performers from past conferences, but I'm going to make an exception by re-booking Tatanka at our next year’s conference due to participant’s requests and the smiles/laughter he brought to all in attendance. I’d highly recommend Tatanka for any organization looking for a comedian, and or a motivational speaker. Tatanka goes above and beyond the average performer. Tatanka also took the time to motivate and tell a few jokes to our Red Lake Nation Fisheries staff, if Tatanka can get the Fisheries staff to unwind, he can get any group to have a great time."
-Cheri G. - Co-Facilitator
Honoring Our Elders
Red Lake Nation
“As Director of Behavioral Health for AMIkids-Sandoval, a program designed to meet the needs of our Native Youth, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tatanka for honoring us with his beaming, energetic, witty presence! He took time out of his full schedule to give back to our Native youth and touched them in so many ways: he role modeled for them that our young men have so many opportunities before them and encouraged them to reach for the stars and live their dreams. His style is panoramic as evidenced in his audience. He engaged them from the get go with his humor and his surreal story telling. I appreciate how he weaved inspirational messages in his show that he shared with us. Just his presence alone is a true inspiration for our youth - one that touched the very core of them that they will carry for generations.”
-Trudy M. S.
Director AMI kids-Sandoval
Iyan Duta Wi
Santee Sioux Dakotah Nation
"It was a pleasure to have Tatanka Means at our high school. He served as an excellent role model for our Native students who don't often get to leave their reservation. He was able to get them to laugh at themselves and be proud of who they are. The students talked about him long after his presentation."
Special Education Director Mandaree School
Mandaree, North Dakota
Mandan Hidatsa Arikara Nation
“Tatanka Means was a speaker at our 2012 OVCDC Employee Gathering - His words were inspirational as well as comedic and entertaining! He had the audience laughing and smiling. He should be commended for his ability to convey positive thinking thru Humor.”
Owens Valley Center
"Tatanka Means was the keynote speaker for our annual Senior Honors Program and he had the task of sending off our Native American graduates with a positive and motivating message. Tatanka exceeded our expectations and delivered an uplifting, sincere and hilarious message to our students and families. It was a great way to end the academic year and I highly recommend Tatanka for any youth speaking engagements."
Mesa Public Schools
"It was a honor to have Tatanka Means on the CMU campus as out keynote speaker this year. He used his sense of humor and improv to educate on Native American stereotypes and engage the campus community. I was just as impressed with his down to earth attitude and willingness to interact with our students at informal settings throughout the day."
Central Michigan University
“Being a Native American in today’s society is very challenging, and by inviting Tatanka Means to our Native American Heritage month assembly, he brought a unique and humorous way of looking at our challenges in a positive way. His show was very inspirational, motivational, and educational. Everyone left the show with a smile and feeling better about themselves.”
Page High School
“Tatanka was great. Everyone was well pleased - he presented a different perspective that struck a positive cord with our audience”
FDIC Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
“Tatanka Means is insanely funny. My face hurt so bad from laughing, I think he should have a medical Doctor on standby!”
Salt Lake Community College
“Without hesitation Tatanka Means was happy to visit Canyon De Chelly Elementary School in his hometown of Chinle, AZ to talk to students about awareness issues such as gang violence, bullying, substance abuse and teen suicides.
Too many times in the past, we have had law enforcement officers and related fields attempt to tackle these issues. But when Tatanka Means visited, he had the complete attention of every student, parent and staff regarding these issues.
Tatanka talked from the heart, being raised in Chinle he is too familiar with what our students face daily. He strongly encouraged students to make the correct choices in life. Tatanka instilled the belief that “You can be anything you want to be… even an actor. You are Dine’, I am Dine’, you are from Chinle, I am from Chinle, reach for the stars… you can do anything.”
Today the student’s behaviors have improved and I do believe our students were heavily impacted by Tatanka’s speech.
Within the past 2 years, C.D.C.E.S. has had great guest speakers. Tatanka Means has been one of our most impacting guest speakers here to date. We are proud of Tatanka and we have been blessed to have him visit our school and we open our doors to his visit anytime.”
Canyon De Chelly Elementary School
"I really enjoyed how Tatanka reeled us in with humor, highlighting our commonality, and reminding us we are all one. Just like an old friend returning home, Tatanka laughed with us, told stories of our journeys, and demonstrated high regard for our souls as he delivered powerful and useful words to enlighten our path. Tatanka, opening our hearts first, that was the key to being heard. He will warm many hearts in his lifetime. Thank you so much for taking the path that lead you to our doorstep today."
-Marlene K Keltner
Kingston High School Counselor
"Hau: A short while back I was electrocuted at work which nearly killed me instead the electrocution left me with a horrible disease called CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) I spend all day, everyday other than trips to the doctor in bed I can no longer shake someone's hand nor can I hug my wife basically I can do nothing. I am in constant pain all day. It is the kind of pain that nobody believes it could be as painful as it is. I am also working with my people's (Lakota) traditional healing.
Everytime I am in terrible pain your comedy makes me laugh and helps me through it and as they say laughter is the best medicine. I thank you for that. You are one of the great ones! You give me a lot of inspiration and hope, as I am sure you do for anyone who walks the Red Road.
I have always admired how you carried yourself on and off the stage and what I am asking you is if you could send me your autograph you are a great deal of strength and inspiration to me. Right now I need all the strength I can gather. All I want to do is try to beat the pain and get somewhat better.
I can't even get to a powwow and I have until now never missed any of them in our area. I know most most stars require money for their autographs but between doctors bills, prescriptions, rent, etc. I have nothing left so I hope you can still help me out with an autograph. Please if you can send me your autograph. May the Creator watch over you and your family."