Arizona Indian Living Treasures Awards

To Honor the Cultures of Arizona Native American Tribes

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R. Carlos Nakai

Year: 

R. Carlos Nakai, of Navajo, Ute and Zuni heritage, has gained international prominence by introducing the long-lost flute-playing tradition of the Dine' to the outside world.

Born in 1946 in Flagstaff, Arizona, he learned to make flutes and explore ancient musical forms and elder musicians and craftsmen, focusing on the intrument's versatility, range, and utility in modern music. His background in classical music has facilitated a series of collaborations with contemporary musicians across cultures, including Larry Yanez with whom he plays jazz, Tibetan flautist Nawany Khechog, guitarist William Eaton, pianist Peter Kater, composer James DeMars, and the Japanese Wing Travlin' Band. He has been nominated for four Grammy Awards, and two of his albums, Canyon Trilgy and Earth Spirit, were among the first to sell 1,000,000 copies.

In 1992, he earned the Arizona Governor's Arts Award and in 1994, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Northern Arizona University and Arizona Board of Regents for his Exceptional Achievements and Contributions to Humankind.

Tribe: 
Navajo
Ute
Zuni
Craft: 
Musician

Previous AILTA Recipients

Ted Vaughn
1990
Craft: Silversmith
Tribe: Yavapai Apache
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