Wes Studi speaks before the National Indian Gaming Association.
Published November 3, 2019
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NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. — Fresh off of receiving an Oscar on Sunday night in Los Angeles, Actor Wes Studi, Portugal. The Man, Debora Iyall of Romeo Void, Pro-wrestler Mickie James and youth groups,The Niijii Singers and Ogiichidaa Singers will be among the special honorees at the sold out 19th Annual Awards ceremony this Saturday, November 2nd at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls, NY.
“Devoted to bringing Indigenous music to the world’s consciousness”
as credited by the New York Times,
the Native American Music Awards (NAMA) is an ultimate celebration of music and entertainment. Founded in 1998, NAMA is the world’s first and largest national professional membership-based organization for the advancement & recognition of
contemporary and traditional music initiatives by artists with Native North American heritage. The Awards show will be streamed live on www.NAMALIVE.com
and on the Awards’ youtube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/NativeMusicAwards
Featuring over one dozen live performances and over 33 Awards presentations, this year’s special honorees are:
Legend Award, Portugal. The Man
Singer and guitarist, John Gourley, and bassist, Zachary Carothers are the founding members of the highly successful group, Portugal The Man. Their friendship goes back to high school in Wasilla, Alaska. The group won Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for their song “Feel It Still” at the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Their acceptance speech was dedicated to the Native youth in the remote villages of Shishmaref, Barrow and Bethel, Alaska. Their continued support of America’s Indigenous People was extended throughout their 2018 national tour by dedicating the opening portion of their set to local tribal artists, leaders, and activists. Thousands of people heard powerful and reaffirming Land Acknowledgements and shared in the celebration of these cultures. PTM posted on social media, “Recognize and respect! Honor the Indigenous Peoples of your home and everywhere else.” and urged everyone to learn and remember the traditional name of the land they’re on and to show respect and gratitude to the first people who call it home. In 2019, PTM released a video entitled, “Land Acknowledgement” highlighting their national tour. Portugal The Man are highly respected for their recent efforts supporting and honoring indigenous people. They have uniquely and continuously made the public aware of tribal histories through their dedicated efforts for land acknowledgement.
Lifetime Achievement, Debora Kay Iyall (Cowlitz)
Debora Iyall is best known as the lead vocalist for the American New Wave/post punk band, Romeo Void. In 1969, at age fourteen, Debora joined the American Indian protest of the Occupation of Alcatraz and stayed for six days. Ten years later, Debora formed the band Romeo Void with bassist Frank Zincavage, saxophonist Benjamin Bossi, and guitarist Peter Woods while attending the San Francisco Art Institute. In 1981, the group released their first single, “White Sweater,” and introduced Romeo Void’s unique blend of jazz, funk, rock and confrontational poetry. The band was quickly recognized for their remarkable modernization of punk music. Debora’s strong, yet sometimes sultry and spoken voice captured the young alternative audience. Ric Ocasek extended an invitation to collaborate and the results were the Never Say Never
EP. The band was a hit on college radio and in New Wave dance clubs. Never Say Never
was deemed a “masterpiece of American post-punk.” Debora immediately garnered critical acclaim as a skilled lyricist and won over female fans with her daring themes of sexuality.
By 1984, their highest charting single, “A Girl In Trouble (Is A Temporary Thing) landed the group in the Top 40 of Billboard’s Hot 100. That same year, the group appeared on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.
The band would release a total of three albums, It’s A Condition, Benefactor, and Instincts,
along with the Never Say Never
EP, before disbanding in 1985. Romeo Void’s music has since been featured in The Incredible Ms. Maisel
and in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street.
The members have reunited briefly over the years including on an episode of VH-1’s Bands Reunited. After releasing a solo album in 1986, Debora has since pursued a rewarding career as an art teacher. She continues to perform on occasion. Debora Iyall remains among an elite group of female fronted rock bands who redefined the role of women in rock music. And, she has always kept her Cowlitz heritage close. “While Everyone was leaning against the wall wearing black,” she once said, ” for me, Romeo Void was a reaction against the regimentation of everyone having to be bleached blonde …I was proud of being American Indian, so I purposely never bleached my hair blonde.”
Hall of Fame Inductee, Wes Studi (Cherokee)
Wes Studi is a Native Oklahoman, Vietnam Veteran, Actor, Musician, Sculptor, Author, Activist and the first indigenous Native American actor to receive an Academy Award. His first few roles quickly established him as one of the most compelling actors in Hollywood; form the Pawnee Warrior in Dances with Wolves, to his powerful performance as Magua in Last of the Mohicans‘; and as a LAPD Detective in Heat with Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. Wes has well over 80 film and television productions to his credit, including his more recent appearances in Avatar and Hostiles. He has brought unmatched dignity and integrity with each and every one of his performances. He is undoubtedly, the greatest and most authentic Native American actor of our time. Earlier this week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences bestowed him with a Governors Award for his distinguished 30 year career, making him the first Native American actor to receive an Oscar. Wes is also an accomplished musician and fronts the band Firecat of Discord with his wife, singer Maura Dhu while playing bass and guitar. His band has released one CD and recently completed new material. His work has established him as a superior role model for all of Indian Country and for other indigenous actors and entertainers around the world. The Native American Music Awards is very proud to induct Wes Studi into the NAMA Hall of Fame.
Rising Star Award Recipients, The Niijii Singers and Ogiichidaa Singers (Lac du Flambeau)
The Rising Star is presented to recognize an individual or group who has made a significant impact in the field of music. This prestigious award of recognition is being presented to a singing group who not only excelled in their field, but are also NAMA’s youngest nominees.Their CD, entitled, Hear Our Songs, is a twelve song recording written and performed by elementary and middle school students of the Lac du Flambeau public school. Debuting as the Niijii Singers and Ogiichidaa Singers, these young artists impressively composed most of the songs themselves and sing in Ojibwe. Following the guidance of their elder, and Award winner, Bobby Bullet, their music is rooted in the traditional Seven Grandfather Teachings of wisdom, honesty, truth, bravery, respect, humility and love. The Hear Our Songs project has provided a platform for these students to learn about the songwriting process while sharing their most inner thoughts and feelings. Many of these youth have suffered great loss and the project has offered them an opportunity to heal. These young artists hope that through their songs, listeners will find greater inspiration and contribute to a stronger and healthier community.
Thorpe Sports Award, Mickie James (Powhatan)
WWE® Superstar Mickie James™ or Mickie Laree James is internationally recognized in the world of professional wrestling. Mickie is a six-time WWE Women’s Champion. She won her first Women’s Championship at WrestleMania 22 and became the first indigenous woman to win WWE’s Women’s & Divas championship as well as the TNA Title three times. Mickie has set a pathway and broken barriers for women in the WWE as well as for young indigenous women in sports. She is presently associated with the ‘World Wrestling Entertainment’ (WWE) brand ‘Smackdown.’ Her wrestling career, spanning almost two decades, began in 1999. She made her ‘WWE’ main-roster debut in October 2005 in arguably one of the most influential female storylines of all time. Mickie is the first female to receive the Thorpe Sports Award. The Jim Thorpe Sports Award was originally introduced by Jim Thorpe’s daughter, Grace Thorpe, at the 2nd Annual Native American Music Awards to honor outstanding achievements by Native American athletes and to keep her father’s legacy alive. Jim Thorpe (Sac and Fox/Potawatomi) is widely considered one of the greatest athletes to ever live.
The Native American Music Awards Special Honors are highly prestigious awards of recognition determined by the Native American Music Association’s Advisory Board, a national registry of over 200 industry members.
The 19th Annual Native American Music Awards is hosted by the Seneca Nation of Indians (one of the six tribes of the Iroquois Confederacy) and will be held at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino in Niagara Falls
, New York on November 2nd in the Seneca Events Center. Doors open at 6:00PM EST for the Red Carpet. At 7:00pm local Seneca bands, Iron Eye and Faron John will be performing with the Awards show starting at 8:00pm. The Awards Pre-Show Red Carpet Event will be hosted by Kim Acosta
and David Rose
for nominees, patrons, and the general public. The awards is also presented in part by the Ferry Law and the Unitary Apparel.