Native nominees announced for 50th annual GRAMMY Awards

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - The Recording Academy announced the nominees for the 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards ceremony at the Music Box @ Fonda in Hollywood Dec. 6.

Under the category of Native American Music Album (Vocal or Instrumental), the nominees consist of Walter Ahhaitty & Friends, ''Oklahoma Style''; Black Lodge, ''Watch This Dancer!''; Davis Mitchell, ''The Ballad of Old Times''; R. Carlos Nakai, Cliff Sarde & William Eaton, ''Reconnections''; and Johnny Whitehorse, ''Totemic Flute Chants.''

Peter Kater's album ''Faces of the Sun'' was nominated under the New Age category and features the talents of Mary Youngblood, Bill Miller, Tony Levin, Paul McCandless, Kevin Locke, Arvel Bird, Jeff Ball and Douglas Blue Feather.

Ahhaitty was in shock when he heard that his album received the nod. ''Oklahoma Style'' consists mostly of Gourd Dance songs, and was recorded at the Southern California Indian Center Pow Wow in Costa Mesa. He said the CD was recorded with the intention of benefiting the organization.

When Ahhaitty, Kiowa, received a call from a reporter asking him about the nomination, he said that he spent the first few minutes arguing with her before realizing that she had her facts straight. Eventually the news sunk in when he went into a Virgin Records store and viewed his name on the roster of nominees.

''It still hasn't sunk in and it probably won't until I go to the Staples Center,'' he said. ''I take it as a blessing from God.''

Mitchell also felt some shock when he learned that his album was nominated. That shock soon turned to gratitude for a dream come true. The Navajo singer said he tapped his inspiration for the lyrics out of his own sadness. ''I have traveled the reservations all over the country and sometimes I get lonely and depressed,'' he said. ''That is where these songs come in.''

Black Lodge received its sixth GRAMMY nod with ''Watch This Dancer!'' Based out of White Swan, Wash., the group is led by Kenny Scabby Robe, Blackfeet, and the members consist mostly of his sons. Kathy Norris, spokesman for Canyon Records, said that Black Lodge is once again honored for ''being a part of the process.'' Scabby Robe could not be reached for comment.

Nakai received his eighth nomination with ''Reconnections,'' and said that while he feels honored, he compared his GRAMMY experience to New Age artist Kitaro, who received numerous nominations before he finally took home a statue. ''The nominations are a very good thing, which means I am still alive and out here,'' he said.

Whitehorse's album ''Totemic Flute Chants'' features 12 songs that honor the Cougar, Coyote, Thunderbird, Emergence, Earth Mother, Serpent, Buffalo, Whale, Elk, Eagle, Bear and Wolf. He was unavailable for comment.

This year's ceremony takes place Feb. 10 at Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast on CBS beginning at 8 p.m. EST/PST.