BLM Artist in Residence and D’DAT Band Hold Events for Bears Ears National Monument

Andrea Balles

This year Bureau of Land Management (BLM) welcomed Artist in Residence, Delbert Anderson and his group D’DAT, to the Bears Ears region. The D’DAT ensemble included lead vocalist, James Pakootas; upright bass player, Mike McCluhan; drummer, Nicholas Lucero, and trumpeter, Delbert Anderson. These four artists combine their diverse musical influences when composing music to create a unique and compelling sound. As part of the multi-state Painted Mountains Tour, Anderson and D’DAT visited Bears Ears National Monument to learn more about the cultural and historical significance of the area, conduct a musical workshop with children of all ages, and preform a live concert to celebrate America’s public lands. On Thursday morning, June 16, D’DAT met with former Hopi Vice Hopi Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva.The D’DAT band and Mr. and Mrs. Tenakhongva were escorted by Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service staff up to the Bears Ears Buttes. 

A lush meadow of sage bush, grasses, and Ponderosa pine with a view of the symmetrical Bears Ears Buttes in the background.
A lush meadow of sage bush, grasses, and Ponderosa pine with a view of the symmetrical Bears Ears Buttes in the background.

Tenakhongva opened with a prayer and began telling stories of the Hopi Tribe, as well as the significance of the Bears Ears region to his ancestors and the present-day Hopi people. To conclude his inspiring discussion of Hopi culture and history, Tenakhongva grabbed his traditional rattles and sang one of his songs for the group. Anderson and his ensemble D’DAT departed from the morning gathering with the inspiration needed to create a song that embodied Bears Ears National Monument.

Former Hopi Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva preforms an original Hopi song in front of the Bears Ears Buttes.
Former Hopi Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva preforms an original Hopi song in front of the Bears Ears Buttes.

During the Friday morning musical workshop, Anderson told of how D’DAT came to fruition, struggles they have overcome, and the mission of their music. Aiming to connect people to Native American culture though jazz, funk, and hip-hop, Anderson has found inspiration in Navajo spinning songs. These songs are traditionally passed from one generation to the next and are still present today. One aspect of D’DAT that was highlighted by Anderson during the Friday morning musical workshop is the group’s blend of multi-cultural bandmates. D’DAT gladly shared a few of their pieces with both attendees and those watching virtually via live stream by the BLM. They also answered questions about their legacy and vision for the future of the group.

Artist in Residence Delbert Anderson and his group D'DAT share an original piece with students at the musical workshop in Blanding, Utah at the Edge of the Cedars Museum.
Figure 3: Artist in Residence Delbert Anderson and his group D'DAT share an original piece with students at the musical workshop in Blanding, Utah.

Saturday evening’s concert brought in a host of unique audience members, from federal and state leaders to families and groups of friends. BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning welcomed guests and gave a brief introduction into the evening’s events. BLM Utah State Director Greg Sheehan and BLM Deputy Director of Policy and Programs Nada Culver were also in attendance. Then, Clark Tenakhongva took to the stage to offer an opening prayer and share recent history of Bears Ears National Monument. He then preformed one of his original pieces about Bears Ears in Hopi language. The song shares the importance of the region and how the Hopi people are connected to it.

Tribal elder of the Hopi Tribe, Clark Tenakhongva, stands on a stage and preforms original piece at the Artist in Residence concert in Blanding, Utah.
Tribal elder of the Hopi Tribe, Clark Tenakhongva, preforms original piece at the Artist in Residence concert in Blanding, Utah.

Anderson and D’DAT were welcomed to the stage with an eager round of applause. Lead vocalist Pakootas outlined how each song flowed into one another, ultimately creating a story of a young warrior’s trials and tribulations on the pathway to finding his true self. Every song was layered in exciting beats, melodies, and rhythms. The artists cleverly utilized their instruments to highlight the storyline that Pakootas was singing, while also adding depth and emotion to each verse. This invigorating performance offered both entertainment and motivational content for the crowd. The audience left with an understanding of D’DAT’s message of connection to “mother earth”, the healing powers of nature, as well as their emphasis on the importance of love and self-acceptance.

D'DAT band grooving on stage as they preform Artist in Residence concert for Bears Ears National Monument.
D'DAT band grooving on stage as they preform Artist in Residence concert for Bears Ears National Monument.

The Bureau of Land Management Moab and Monticello Field offices would like to thank D’DAT for sharing their talents and for spending time at Bears Ears National Monument during the Painted Mountains Tour. Other tour stops included: Canyons of the Ancients National Monument, Colorado; Lower Deschutes Wild and Scenic River, Oregon; King Range National Conservation Area, California; and Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, New Mexico. Learn more about the Artist in Residence program and the Painted Mountains tour on the BLM website at 2022 Painted Mountains Tour | Bureau of Land Management (blm.gov). You can also watch recorded livestream of the concert on the BLM Utah Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/BLMUtah/videos/561071225639752.