The Grammy Award

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The Grammy Awards are a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards.

The Grammy AwardsHonors in several categories are presented at the ceremony annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position.

The Grammy Award for Best Native American Music Album was an award presented at the Grammy Awards to recording artists for quality albums in the Native American music genre.

Following a three-year lobbying effort by Ellen Bello, founder of the Native American Music Awards and the Native American Music Association, the Grammy award was first presented to Tom Bee and Douglas Spotted Eagle in 2001 as the producers of the compilation album Gathering of Nations Pow Wow.

Previously, Native American recordings had been placed in the folk, world or new-age music categories.

While some Native American artists criticized the award category for being too narrowly defined to accommodate the breadth of today’s Indian music, others took pride in its inclusion.

The name of the award remained unchanged between 2001 and 2011. According to the category description guide for the 52nd Grammy Awards, the award was presented to vocal or instrumental Native American music albums containing at least 51% playing time of newly recorded music, with the intent to honor recordings of a more “traditional nature.”

As performing artists, Bill Miller and Mary Youngblood share the record for the most wins in this category, with two each. Thomas Wasinger holds the record for the most wins as a producer, with three. The group Black Lodge Singers holds the record for the most nominations without a win, with seven.

In 2011, the category Best Native American Music Album was eliminated along with thirty others due to a major overhaul by the Recording Academy.

Four additional categories in the American Roots Music field were eliminated (Best Contemporary Folk Album, Best Hawaiian Music Album, Best Traditional Folk Album, Best Zydeco or Cajun Music Album). Native American works will now be eligible for the Best Regional Roots Music Album category.

Grammy Award for Best Native American Music Album Recipients

YearArtistWorkProducerNominees
2001Various artistsGathering of Nations Pow Wow 1999Tom Bee
Douglas Spotted Eagle
  • Black Lodge Singers – Tribute to the Elders
  • Joseph Fire Crow – Cheyenne Nation
  • Lakota Thunder – Veterans Songs
  • Joanne Shenandoah – Peacemaker’s Journey
2002Johnny Mike and Verdell PrimeauxBless the People: Harmonized Peyote SongsGiuli Doyle
Robert Doyle
  • Black Eagle – Life Goes On: Hand Drum and Round Dance Songs
  • Black Lodge Singers – Weasel Tail’s Dream: The Tradition Continues
  • Northern Cree – Rockin’ the Rez
  • Various Northern Drums – Gathering of Nations 2000: Millennium Celebration, Volume 1
  • Young Bird – Change of Life: Oklahoma Pow-Wow Songs
2003Mary YoungbloodBeneath the Raven MoonThomas Wasinger
  • Burning Sky – Spirit in the Wind
  • Redheart – Sacred Season
  • Vince Redhouse – Faith in the House
  • Randy Wood – Round Dance the Night Away
2004Black EagleFlying FreeTom Bee
  • Tom Bee – Reveal His Glory
  • Black Lodge Singers – Brotherhood
  • R. Carlos Nakai – Sanctuary
  • Northern Cree – Still Rezin’
2005Bill MillerCedar Dream SongsN/A
  • Black Eagle – Straight Up Northern
  • Black Lodge Singers – Family Traditions
  • Joanne Shenandoah – Covenant
  • Mary Youngblood – Feed the Fire
2006Various artistsSacred Ground: A Tribute to Mother EarthJim Wilson
  • Black Lodge – More Kids’ Pow-Wow Songs
  • Alex E. Smith and Cheevers Toppah – Intonation: Harmonized Songs from the Southern Plains
  • Randy Wood – Our Love Will Never Die
2007Mary YoungbloodDance with the WindThomas Wasinger
  • Black Eagle – Voice of the Drum
  • Robert “Tree” Cody and Will Clipman – Heart of the Wind
  • Jana – American Indian Story
  • Northern Cree and Friends – Long Winter Nights
2008Robert MirabalTotemic Flute ChantsLarry Mitchell
  • Walter Ahhaitty and Friends – Oklahoma Style
  • Black Lodge – Watch This Dancer!
  • Davis Mitchell – The Ballad of Old Times
  • R. Carlos Nakai, Cliff Sarde, William Eaton, and Randy Wood – Reconnections
2009Various artistsCome to Me Great Mystery: Native American Healing SongsThomas Wasinger
  • Bryan Akipa – Songs from the Black Hills
  • Black Lodge – Spo’Mo’Kin’Nan
  • Northern Cree – Red Rock
  • Kevin Yazzie – Faith
2010Bill MillerSpirit Wind NorthBill Miller
Michael Von Muchow
  • Michael Brant DeMaria – Siyotanka
  • Northern Cree – True Blue
  • John Two-Hawks – Wind Songs: Native American Flute Solos
  • Johnny Whitehorse – Riders of the Healing Road
2011Various artists2010 Gathering of Nations Pow Wow: A Spirit’s DanceDerek Mathews
Lita Mathews
Melonie Mathews
  • Bear Creek – XI
  • Northern Cree – Temptations: Cree Round Dance Songs
  • Peter Phippen – Woodnotes Wyld: Historic Flute Sounds from the Dr. Richard W. Payne Collection