2012 World Champion Hand Drum Champions North Bear Sing-out for the Grizzly
The Wind River Reservation powerhouse elevates the chorus to protect the Ancient One
One of Indian Country’s most innovative and inspiring drum groups has added its collective voice to the rapidly expanding groundswell of support in Native America to retain Endangered Species Act protections for the sacred grizzly bear.
North Bear, the 2012 World Hand Drum Champions, embrace the mission to “stop the grizzly from being killed by trophy hunters,” which is how lead singer Jermaine Bell articulated one of GOAL’s objectives during a recent powwow.
The multiple-Aboriginal Peoples’ Choice Music Awards nominees hail from the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming, home of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho. Wind River has been described as “potentially ground zero” in the struggle to protect the grizzly bear from federal delisting and the State of Wyoming’s desire to see trophy-hunting seasons reinstituted on the Great Bear.
The State of Wyoming has identified the Wind River Range as one area from which it intends to extinguish the grizzly. The federal government’s so-called “grizzly bear czar,” USFWS coordinator Chris Servheen, has already provided Wyoming Game and Fish with the mechanism to do so, when the government delists the grizzly.
Members of North Bear were photographed at the 55th Annual Eastern Shoshone Indian Days and Powwow with copies of a GOAL publication that has been widely distributed around the Wind River Reservation.
Among other critical issues, the newspaper warns of threats to tribal sovereignty should elected tribal officials unwittingly permit the states of Montana, Wyoming and Idaho to carry out the respective governors’ political wills on reservations and ancestral homelands in respect to delisting the grizzly.
GOAL cautions that this could occur due to the close associations between tribal fish and game departments and their state counterparts, and urges tribal governments and concerned citizens to ensure that these departments do not inflict the states’ policies on reservations when it comes to the sacred grizzly.
The cover art for North Bear’s latest collection, “#NBALLDAY,” is visual testimony to the singers’ respect for the power of the grizzly.
Founded in 2003 by brothers Jermaine and Luke Bell with their cousin Abe Thomas, the group’s name speaks to their tribal heritage: “North” honors the Northern Arapaho, and “Bear” is the English translation of the Lakota “Mato,” the name of the Arapaho singers’ Oglala Lakota nephew.
#NBALLDAY, recorded at the 2013 Crow Creek powwow, follows the groups previous powwow releases, Now Ya Know and Allies.
The contemporary Native classic “Daddy’s Girl,” written by Jermaine Bell, the song performed by Jermaine, Luke Bell, Herb Augustine Jr. and Abe Thomas at the Gathering of Nations Powwow that earned North Bear the title of 2012 World Hand Drum Champions, is featured on the critically acclaimed round dance album, Feelings & Emotions.
The powerhouse-drum group’s line-up on #NBALLDAY is Jermaine and Luke Bell, Sam and Norman Iron Cloud, Tyray Healy, Jason Dupree, Tyson Flute, Lonnie Wise Spirit and Myron Iron Child, with back-up singers Jennifer Fragua and Jasmine Bell, plus additional North Bear personel... Abraham Thomas, Tyson Shay, Melichi Four Bears, Herb Augustine, Damien Black Bear, Leroy Ceespooch, Ryan Burson, Kane Big Lake.
You can find North Bear's music to download at:
© Guardians of Our Ancestor’s Legacy (GOAL): Tribal Coalition to Protect the Grizzly.