17th Annual Native American Music Awards

The Native American Music Awards returned to Niagara Falls and the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino on October 14 to celebrate the 17th annual NAMA ceremonies.


Prior to the gala event, was a meet and greet with a photo session for fans and some of the performers and presenters.

The night’s festivities began with Steve Gordon offering the traditional prayer spoken in the Seneca language, which was followed by a welcome and opening remarks by Seneca Nation President Todd Gates.


Continuing with tradition, the Seneca Women’s Singing Society – The Newton Singers – gave a performance. The group is dedicated to the preservation of the Seneca language. NAMA nominees Northern Cree also gave a performance.

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Chairman for the National Indian Gaming Association and member of the Oneida Nation Ernie Stevens Jr served as the master of ceremonies for the night’s events.


Earlier this year the Native American music community lost an incredible musician when NAMA Hall of Fame artist Joseph Firecrow walked over. NAMA paid tribute to Firecrow with a video presentation about the artist. Joseph’s widow Joann also spoke a few words.


The first presentation of the night was an induction into the NAMA Hall of Fame. Artur Redcloud present the award to WWE professional wrestler and Country music artist Mickie James. Mickie is a six time WWE female champion, a mom, and a member of the Pawhatan Nation who has recently released her fourth Country music album.


In the first award of the night 17 year old Lucas Ciliberti was named the Debut Artist of the Year for his album “Rainmaker”.


NAMA award winners and “America’s Got Talent” alumni Lil Mike and Funnybone gave a performance that got the house moving in their seats.


The award for Debut Group of the Year went to the Black Bear Brothers – Emmanuel and Tim – for their album “Songs from Cheyenne Creek”. The brothers were singing as they came up on stage to accept their award.


NAMA nominee Nahko of Nahko and Medicine for the People gave a performance.

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The award for Best Concept Music Video went to Northern Cree and DJ Shub for “Indomitable”.

NAMA nominee Kelly Derekson gave a performance.

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The award for Record of the Year with to Nahko and Medicine for the People for “Hoka”.


In an announcement of earlier winners…
the Best Female Artist award went to Kelly Derekson
the Flutist of the Year award went to Randy McGinnis
the Group of the Year award went to The Cody Blackbird Band
the Best Male Artist award went to Conrad Benally
the Song of the Year award went to Mickie James for “Shooting Blanks”
the Best Performance Music Video of the Year went to Jan Michael Lookingwolf
the Best Narrative Music Video went to Artsonwith Supaman and Quese Imc for “Never Give Up”
the Best Country Album went to Danielle Egnew for “You’ve Got to Go Back the Way that You Came”

NAMA award winner and “The Voice” alumni Josh Halverson gave a performance that rocked the house.

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In the last award presentation of the night, Felipe Rose from The Village People presented the Artist of the Year award to Josh Halverson.


Mickie James gave a performance.

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Former Mrs. Universe Ashley Callingbull presented the NAMA Lifetime Achievement award to musician and actor Gary Farmer.

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In a list of more previous winners…
the Fold Artist of the Year went to Josh Halverson
the Best Gospel/inspirational award went to Callie Bennett for “Awake, Arise, and Shine”
the Best Instrumental award went to Vince Redhouse for “Songs of the Earth”
the award for Best Native Church Recording went to Cheeves Toppah for “Simplicity”
the Best Pop Recording went to the Cherokee National Youth Choir for “Celebration”
the Best Pow Wow Recording went to Northern Cree for “It’s a Cree Thing”
The award for Best Hip-Hop or R&B Recording went to Sten Joddi for “The 7th Generation Prophecy”
the award for Best Rock or Blues Recording went to Levi Platero for “Take Me Back”
the award for Best Traditional Recording went to James Edmund Greeley for “Before America”
the award for Best Waila Recording went to Native Creed

Gary Farmer and the Troublemakers closed out the evening with a performance.

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All photos by Sherrill Fulghum

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