Ute Tribe ushers in spring with Bear Dance

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Stepping together in perfect cadence, men and women dancers move to the rhythm of the bear, as the four-day spring celebration came to a close on Monday, May 20.
A young dancer, with braid and beaded vest, patiently awaits his turn to be picked for a dance in the corral. Young boys sit together between songs, eager to dance the next dance.
Paying tribute to the mothers, while also acknowledging Mother’s Day, the Bear Dance Chief honored women with a song and a line dance, Sunday, May 19.
Sisters, Leora Lucero and Lisa Burch dance together throughout the weekend on the Unitah and Ouray Reservation.
Growlers lay against the growler box in time honored tradition, singers use bone and iron to run against their wooden instruments, singing songs passed down from one generation to the next, from one season to another.
Partners break into couples on the last day of the Bear Dance, stepping high and moving to the pace of the song.
Southern Ute elder, Georgia McKinley enjoys watching her family dance at the Ute Tribe’s annual Bear Dance in Ft. Duchesne, Utah.
Bringing down the American Flag at days end is a time-honored tradition for members of the Northern Ute Tribe, the War Bonnet Society of Ft. Duchesne has the honor of conducting this ceremony on the last day of Bear Dance each spring.
The War Bonnet Society of Ft. Duchesne stand together outside the entrance to the Bear Dance Corral, Monday, May 20 — Jonas Grant, Delbert Tavashutz, Cesar Corona, Leo Tapoof and others make up the society.
The flag is raised each morning during the celebration as a symbol of patriotism and peace.
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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Cool spring weather graced this year’s Northern Ute Bear Dance held in Fort Duchesne, Utah on the Uintah & Ouray Reservation Friday May 17 – Monday, May 20. Dancers of all ages from across the three Ute tribes came together to sing, dance and celebrate in this spring ceremony. The Bear Dance Chief, Antonio Kanip and his men harvest materials and build the bear dance corral each spring, carefully measuring the size in steps; adhering to traditions, the brush is burned and returned to the earth once the spring dance is complete.

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