Gathering of Nations wins first Native GRAMMY

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FEBRUARY 22, 2001

Irish rocker Bono said it was U2's night but for Indian Country, it was all about music industry veteran Tom Bee and Douglas Spotted Eagle as they accepted the first ever GRAMMY for Best Native American Music Album on Wednesday.

Taking home top honors for producing "Gathering of Nations," the duo humbly accepted their award before millions of viewers who tuned in to watch the 43rd annual GRAMMY show last night. Their words were short but sweet and both were visibly moved as they took to the stage of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.

"Native peoples music has finally been recognized," said Spotted Eagle.

For Bee, winning was the ultimate thanks for his tireless, 10-year effort to get Native music recognized by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Last year, the Academy added a new category to honor traditional Native American music and five recordings were nominated.

"Gathering of Nations," featuring nearly two dozen drum groups who performed at the Gathering of Nations pow-wow in 1999, emerged as the winner. Bee thanked the organizers of the Albuquerque, New Mexico, annual event -- including Natache Frank and Gloria King -- without whom the recording would not have been possible.

Backstage, the pair commented on the significance of the award, not just for themselves but for the entire Native music industry. A GRAMMY usually translates into greater interest in any genre.

"It will inspire a lot more Native musicians to come out of the woodwork," said Spotted Eagle. "It will inspire a lot of non-Native people to start listening."

Appropriately enough, the award was presented by Robbie Robertson, former member of legendary rock group The Band and a Native musician and producer himself. In probably the show's only political statement, Robertson decried the continued imprisonment of American Indian Movement activist Leonard Peltier.

"I guess he wasn't Marc Rich enough," said Robertson. President Bill Clinton has been criticized for pardoning Rich, whose ex-wife contributed millions of dollars to the Democratic party.

Ironically, actor Val Kilmer also helped present the award. Kilmer -- who has worked with Spotted Eagle and Bee -- once played a part-Indian FBI agent in a movie loosely based on Peltier and the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

"I was honored to be asked to present this award with Robbie because its the first time the GRAMMYs have honored the Native American album of the year," said Kilmer backstage. "It was special."

The Winner:
Gathering of Nations Pow-Wow - Various Artists (SOAR)

The Other Nominees:
Tribute To The Elders - The Black Lodge Singers (Canyon)
Cheyenne Nation - Joseph Fire Crow (Makoche)
Veterans Songs - Lakota Thunder (Makoche)
Peacemaker's Journey - Joanne Shenandoah (Silverwave)

Special Offer from AllNative:
Get your GRAMMY Pack featuring the Black Lodge Singers, Joseph Fire Crow, Joanne Shenandoah, and Gathering of Nations.

Relevant Links:
Gathering of Nations -

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