Last Dance at the Council Tree Powwow.







Photographs Jeremy Wade Shockley/SU DRUM

A storm on the horizon. Golden light filters into the arena.

Dancers prepare their regalia.

This was to be the final dance at the Council Tree Powwow. Held in Delta, Colorado the Council Tree Powwow takes place each fall in an arbor prepared for this event, not directly under but very near the ancient council tree itself; an esteemed cottonwood of Ute legend and historical significance.

The perfect evening gave way to darkening thunderheads and a torrential downpour. Lightening filled the sky as dancers and spectators alike fled the dance arena, seeking shelter and warmth.

As I drove home the following day; criss-crossing the Weminuche Wilderness, the highest peaks now blanketed by fresh snow, I felt a sadness in having witnessed the last of something so beautiful. In my heart I hoped that it would continue. A year rolls over, and autumn has now past us by. The arena lies empty.

Editorial coverage from the Southern Ute Drum newspaper.

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Native American Journalism Association: 2010 Media Awards

On the nature of awards…certainly a subject of value as we progress through a world of photography and journalism. As a freelance photographer I didn’t seek out too many awards for myself, inevitably I was focusing of generating content and moving forward.

A certain benefit of being affiliated with any publication, newspaper or magazine, is that the prospect of winning awards of very real. Entry fees are less daunting, the process is built into the day to day curriculum at the office, and most importantly you are putting your self out there as a team.

Everyone in the office puts their best work forward, and with the consensus of fellow staffers, prints are shipped along with the relevant editorial pieces. Then the wait, but with that comes introspection and an awareness that every time you go out in the field to craft a feature story for publication, that the very work you are about to create could be a contender for the next round of editorial critic!

With two feature stories and a half dozen images submitted to this years NAJA awards, I was pleased to have garnered a few of the accolades on behalf of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.


Best Photo Categories

Best Feature Photo: 3rd Place

Jeremy Wade Shockley, Photographer/Reporter, The Southern Ute Drum, “Bear Dance”


Best Photo Categories

Best News Photo: 3rd Place

Jeremy Wade Shockley, Photographer/Reporter, The Southern Ute Drum, “Bennett Thompson”


Associate Categories

News Story (Print): 2nd Place

Jeremy Wade Shockley, Photographer, The Southern Ute Drum, “Solix: Fueling a Better World”

Cultural Rendezvous in Cascade Canyon.






Photographs Jeremy Wade Shockley/SU DRUM

The above images are selected from Southern Ute Drum coverage of the Second Annual Heritage Train, now available to view online. Leading off the front page, this story captures both the majesty of the natural environment and the historical railcars, while also bringing the reader in closer for an intimate look at the cultural side of this unique and beautiful event through words and imagery.

View full article and photographs as published HERE.

Cheers, Jeremy

Shooting on the Sidelines.

Photograph Jeremy Wade Shockley/SU DRUM

Many of my favorite photographs are often shot on the fringe of an event, often showing the reader the story in a different light. Rodeos, Powwows, political rallies, and sporting events. These are events that are often covered from the standpoint of what they are, taken and interpreted very literally.

Events almost always have a second life right on the fringe, and that is where I often find the most interesting photographs and subjects to really tell the story through images as it has perhaps not so often been told. This image of a small dog guarding a van outside the Powwow arena is the perfect example of another way to photograph an annual Powwow celebration.

The full photo essay and annual Southern Ute Bear Dance events are posted online in this weeks Southern Ute Drum Newspaper.

Enjoy the images….Jeremy

Chimney Rock Cultural Gathering.

Photograph Jeremy Wade Shockley/SU DRUM

15th Annual Chimney Rock Native American Cultural Gathering
Text and Photographs: Jeremy Wade Shockley
Southern Ute Drum Vol.XLI No.15

Dark thunderclouds moved in from the northwest as dancers from Denver began to don their regalia in preparation for dance. A strong breeze ruffled the feathers of the elaborate headdresses, which had been moved under the porch awning and out of the weather. The leader and teacher of this dance group watched the sky, his name is Carlos Castaneda. Carlos is the head dancer for the Aztec Mexica Dancers, pronounced me-she-ka. These dancers have made the journey from Denver to Chimney Rock Archaeological Area for the last twelve years.

Their traditional dance is part of the annual Chimney Rock Native American Cultural Gathering, now in it’s 15th year. Carlos feels the practice of traditional dance builds and maintains a strong connection with his past, an ancestry going back to the traditional cultures of Mexico and Central America. “ My parents and grandparents did not pass this down, these dances were forbidden to them, we are reclaiming our culture through ceremonies that were almost lost,” said Carlos. We spoke of the weather, as Carlos finished lacing up his regalia, “It will rain, you’ll see.”

The Aztec dance group consisted of men and women, two drummers and few young children dressed in full regalia. The ceremony began with an offering of incense and prayer to the four directions. The fervent dancing began almost immediately to the sound of fast paced, rhythmic drumming. Each dancer taking the lead in turn, as large drops of rain began to fall. Carlos beckoned the spectators to join them in the arena for the final dance as the heavens rained down. The heavy downpour did not dampen spirits as the dance continued in a fast circular fashion, perhaps drawing an unexpected energy from the sudden shift in weather, embracing the warm summer rains.


Chimney Rock Archaeological Area is located just west of Pagosa Springs and the Southern Ute recreation area known as Lake Capote. Following the rainstorm, a second dance arena had been designated along the ridge line, where the dark clouds made way for clear skies and sunshine. Performing traditional dances, there were a number of Hopi dance groups as well as singers and dancers from Acoma Pueblo. The arena was set in a traditional kiva, allowing these dances a more traditional setting. A Hopi Dance group held the first dance from Second Mesa, performing the “Buffalo Dance”. This group’s village of origin is Sipaulovi, meaning “Village of Mosquitoes.”

“The Acoma Pueblo dancers return to the cultural gathering annually” said Albert Alno of the Acoma Pueblo Traditional Dancers and Singers. Proud of his young dancers, Albert spoke favorably of the setting and environment that the Cultural gathering had to offer. Aside from a historical and picturesque dance arena, concessions were also provided. Various artisans also traveled to this event, setting up ceramics and jewelery under the shelter of tarps.

Tewa Dancers from the North also performed in the Kiva, with group leader Andrew Garcia drumming with relatives. Andrew hails from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and has been involved with positive mentoring since 1974. His program started as a means to keep youth off of drugs and alcohol, to teach them the values of traditional life ways throughout Native American culture. His dance group has since traveled the world and continues to bring a positive impact to the youth involved. His “Eagle Dancers” performed beautifully.

With the last rays of golden sunlight splashing the earthen floor, two dancers entered the Kiva. Moving to the drums, Philbert Polingyouma and his partner danced gracefully as the light began to fade into evening. This dance concluded the 15th annual Chimney rock Native American Cultural Gathering, a two-day event held in the mountains of Colorado, come rain or shine. Photographs Jeremy Wade Shockley/SU DRUM

Visit the SOUTHERN UTE DRUM website to see the full article and photographs.

Cheers, Jeremy