Spring Bear Dance Endures, with Small One-Day Ceremony

Jun 12, 2020

This photo from 2017 shows Bear Dance ‘Pino Nuche’ style, with men and women line dancing to the rhythm of the songs. Bear Dance singers use wooden growlers to perform the traditional Ute Bear Dance songs, these rhythmic sounds are synonymous with the spring celebration.
Credit courtesy Jeremy Wade Shockley, The Southern Ute Drum

Among Ute people, late Spring is the time for Bear Dance. These are annual events which run several days, and are open to natives and non-natives alike. In recent years, hundreds of people attend Bear Dance events held in Ute communities in Colorado and Utah. But this year, they are being limited to small, one-day ceremonies. Producer Adam Burke of the KSUT series Native Braids spent some time with Southern Ute Bear Dance Chief Matthew Box about the event happening June 12, near Ignacio.

KSUT COVID-19 news reporting is made possible by support from individual donors and the Colorado Media Project.

Native Braids is a co-production of KSUT Tribal Radio and independent producer Adam Burke.