Native American Music Awards celebrate arts and culture

The Native American Music Awards celebrated its 15th annual event on Friday, Nov. 14 in Salamanca, New York. According to, the event took place at the Seneca Allegany Casino Hotel and rewarded over 30 musicians for their accomplishments within the past year.

The Artist of the Year title was earned by Mato Nanji, lead singer and guitarist for the group Indigenous, for the album “Vanishing Americans.” The album drew inspiration from blues and rock music to create a unique 13-track album. The group is set to do a small tour in January.

Leah Shenandoah received the award for Debut Artist of the Year for her album, “Spektra.” Shenandoah is a Oneida Iroquois Wolf Clan member. In addition to her music career, she creates jewelry, textiles and a variety of other artwork.

Two-time Grammy Award-winner Rita Coolidge took home the honor of being named Best Female Artist for her work on “A Rita Coolidge Christmas.” According to, Coolidge has been performing since the 1970s but became a name in Native American music in the 1990s.

The recognition awards will be televised on Thanksgiving day.

By: Tucker Harrington