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The new Grammy for "best Native American music album" won't be awarded until February. But Seminole Indian Chairman James Billie, a singer in his own right, already has an opinion about who should win.
"It should go to federally recognized Native American Indians," says the chief of South Florida's Seminole tribe. "Because there are a lot of people who are talented, but we're not sure who they are."
Some performers of traditional Native American music have claimed to be for real (blood members of tribes certified by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs) or simply allowed their audiences to assume as much _ only to be found out as vivid pretenders and "native-influenced" entertainers at best.
Billie doesn't name names. Followers of Native American music hope the Grammys won't, either.
"Because the worst thing that could happen," says Pete Gallagher, spokesman for the Seminoles, "is they give a Grammy to someone who isn't Native American."
In resolving to celebrate the oldest genre on the continent, after mostly ignoring it for the past 42 years, the Grammys' keepers are stepping onto hallowed and sometimes shaky cultural ground. Identity and authenticity matter in a …