Northern Cree will be the Lifetime Achievement Award recipients in the completely re-imagined 2017 Indigenous Music Awards during the Manito Ahbee ongoing event in Winnipeg May 17 to 21.
Northern Cree was founded in 1982 when the Wood brothers of Saddle Lake Cree Nation traveled to Idaho to compete in a stick game tournament. Their first night there, they lost all their funds in the tournament and found themselves unable to get home.
The only way they could earn enough money for the trip home was to sing at the Powwow the next day. One of the brothers borrowed a drum from a local museum so they could sing the many songs that they had learned from their father and uncles.
When the arena director asked the name of the group, they looked down at the faded words “Northern Cree” written on the drum and gave that as their drum group name. So began the career of the Northern Cree Singers, one of the most respected and influential groups on the Powwow trail.
Though the group originates from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation, it currently comprises members from the Treaty 6 area, including the Frog Lake, Onion Lake, Samson, Louis Bull, and the Poundmaker Cree Nations.
The group has travelled and performed throughout North America, toured Greenland and were part of a Canada Day celebration in London’s Trafalgar Square.
Northern Cree has released 37 recordings spanning 25 years with Phoenix-based Canyon Records. Their recordings have won numerous awards.
They are also nominated this year in the Best Hand Drum Album for “It’s A Cree Thing.”
The presentation will be made May 19.