Bear Dancing on the Uintah & Ouray Reservation

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Women’s choice; dancers line dance with their partners during the Northern Ute Bear Dance, held each spring in Fort Duchesne, Utah on the Uintah & Ouray Reservation, Sunday, May 14
Siblings adorned in their Bear Dance regalia, these young dancers typically line dance during the spring celebration.
Men wait to be picked by a woman during the Bear Dance, often sitting out one or more dances if they are not selected.
The late evening light and cool weather made for a picturesque skyline during Sunday nights’ Bear Dance in Fort Duchesne, Utah.
Dominique Joy dances with a partner, as the Bear Dance songs carried on into the night on the Uintah & Ouray Reservation.
Northern Ute Bear Dance Chief, Antonio (A.J.) Kanip, sings alongside the Northern Ute singers; some of the men prefer to use a short, sturdy bone against their wooden
Colorful shawls are traditionally worn by women of all ages, these young girls are lined up for a dance.
Members of the Northern Ute Veterans Association, Delbert Tavashutz, Jonas Grant, Benjie Murray and Leo Tapoof, present the American Flag to Raffel Kanip of the Uintah & Ouray Tribe during the last day of Bear Dance celebrations. The Ute Tribe raises the United States flag to honor a long-standing tradition, according to Tavashutz; historically the Utes were holding a peaceful gathering, similar in nature to the Bear Dance, and they choose to fly the flag above their ceremonial grounds. When members of the U.S. Calvary arrived they interpreted this as a friendly gesture and let the Ute people continue with their celebrations, ceremonies. To this day on the Uintah & Ouray Reservation, the flag is hoisted during the Bear Dance not so much as an act of a patriotism, but rather ... “to show that we are in good standing with the government,” Tavashutz said.
Southern Ute Singers fill the corral with traditional music during the final day of the Northern Ute Bear Dance, held each spring in Fort Duchesne, Utah on the Uintah & Ouray Reservation. Singers from each of the Ute tribes make an effort to travel to each others dances to lend a hand with singing, each taking shifts throughout the weekend, before handing it back over to the local singers on Monday for the final songs of the year, closing that Bear Dance for another season. Pictured Left to Right; John Chavarillo, Tyson Thompson, Dustin Teague, Vincent Cuch Serawop, and Marvin Pennecoose grace the Northern Ute Bear Dance, Monday, May 15.
Young singers sit together and sing with their elders to learn Bear Dance songs.
Bear Dance participants enjoy the spring weather over the weekend in Fort Duchesne, Utah.
Dominique Joy was among the dancers who were ‘breaking’ on Sunday afternoon at the Northern Ute Bear Dance.
Warm light and long shadows set the stage for a dramatic evening at the spring Bear Dance in Fort Duchesne, Utah.
Bear Dance songs carry on into the evening, during the final evening of ‘night dancing’ for the Northern Ute Bear Dance.
Sarah Cuch (right) line dances with her partner during the Northern Ute Bear Dance on the Uintah & Ouray reservation.
The Bear Dance Chief, Antonio (A.J.) Kanip, enjoying a moment of respite during the evening dance, Sunday, May 14.
Miss Southern Ute, Lorrain Watts, takes a partner across the corral during the night dance in Fort Duchesne.
Members of the Northern Ute Veterans Association, Delbert Tavashutz (right) and Benjie Murray, raise the flag over the Bear Dance grounds just after sunrise on Monday, May 15.
Working in unison, men and women line dance to the rhythm of the Bear Dance.
Long lines of dancers begin to fill the Bear Dance corral on the last day of the Bear Dance.
Young men line dance to Bear Dance songs.
Dancers, singers, veterans and spectators take a few moments to honor their relatives during a special ceremony held Monday, May 15.
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum
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Mild spring weather graced this year’s Northern Ute Bear Dance held in Fort Duchesne, Utah on the Uintah & Ouray Reservation Friday May 12 – Monday, May 15. Dancers of all ages from across Ute Country came together to sing, dance in this spring ceremony. The Bear Dance Chief works alongside his men to harvest materials and build the bear dance corral anew each spring, blessing the wood and brush that goes into its creation prior to the start of the Bear Dance.

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