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Six American Indian albums compete in Grammy categories

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Six records by American Indian musicians will compete in this year's Grammy Awards, an all-time high thanks to the addition of a category for Native American Music.

But nominations weren't limited to the first-ever Indian slot. R. Carlos Nakai made an entry in the New Age category for the album "In a Distant Place" recorded with the two other members of his trio and the Tibetan flutist Nawang Khechong. Last year Nakai received two nominations under the New Age rubric for separate albums.

The five nominees for Native American Music are the Black Lodge Singers for "Tribute to the Elders" (Canyon), Joseph Fire Crow for "Cheyenne Nation" (Makoche), Lakota Thunder for "Veterans songs" (Makoche), Joanne Shenandoah for "Peacemaker's Journey" (Canyon) and the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow recording with participants in the annual event at the University of New Mexico.

"I'm very grateful, very grateful," said Shenandoah whose album contains songs in her Oneida language. She received Native American Music Awards in 1998 and 1999 for best female artist and best traditional album. In 2000, she won "Best Short and Long form Music Video honors for "Warrior in Two Worlds," the soundtrack she composed for a PBS documentary aired in 1999 about Eli Parker, a Seneca chief who was a Civil War general.

This year's list is dominated by the Canyon Records label from Phoenix, Ariz., with three titles, but it also shows the strong presence of the Makoche Recording Co., a new studio based in Lakota country, Bismarck, N.D.

The list reflects the influence of the Native American Music Awards. Three of the contenders in the Native American category were honored at the Third Annual Nammys in November - Black Lodge Singers, the traditional drum group of the Scabby Robe family from the Blackfeet reservation in Montana, Shenandoah and the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow collection.

The 43rd annual Grammy Awards will be broadcast live on CBS Feb. 21 from the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Awards will be presented in 100 categories.