The winners of the 16th Annual Native American Music Awards were announced earlier this month at the Seneca Allegany Resort & Casino Event Center in Salamanca, New York. Rapper and Black Eyed Peas member Taboo was inducted into the NAMA Hall of Fame while acclaimed Flutist Joseph FireCrow and Actor/Motivational Speaker/Writer/Artist Saginaw Grant received the Lifetime Achievement award and Living Legend award respectively. Comedy duo Williams and Ree, who were at the inaugural NAMA show in 1998, were voted Entertainers of the Year.
A highlight of the festivities hosted by Comedian/Actor Paul Rodriguez was a two-part tribute honoring John Trudell by two of his musical collaborators. Annie Humphrey performed DNA followed by Thana Redhawk with Ancestors Song featuring Trudell’s vocals.
A special appearance was made by the family of Joseph Flying Bye, who was nominated posthumously for his Putting The Moccasins Back On recording in the Best Historical/Linguistic Recording and Best Traditional Recording categories. His son, Allen and another ten family members drove from Standing Rock, North Dakota to the event. They received an overwhelming response of solidarity from the attendees supporting their opposition of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Seneca President Maurice John recently visited with Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II and NAMA nominees contributed their songs to two free Water Is Life CD compilations to support the Standing Rock Sioux Community.
Twelve year-old hand drummer, Nizhoo Sullivan, the youngest NAMA nominee, was one of several Traditional performances that included Theresa Bear Fox and the Akwesasne Women Singers along with Joseph Fire Crow. Artist of the Year Shelley Morningsong sang and played the flute accompanied by her husband and musical partner Fabian Fontenelle resplendent in his regalia. Best Pop Recording winner Spencer Battiest and his brother Doc impressed the attendees with their renditions of a ballad and hip hop song.
Late singer/songwriter, Chairman of The Confederated Tribes of The Colville Reservation, and Native icon Jim Boyd won Record of the Year for his final recording, Bridge Creek Road. Boyd’s widow Shelly accepted the award accompanied by 15 members of his family including their children. The final performance of the night was a tribute performance to Chairman Boyd by Keith Secola with long-time Boyd drummer Alfonso Kolb, Annie Humphrey, and Sage Bond.