The group was founded in 1982 when the Wood brothers of Saddle Lake, Alberta, Canada, traveled to Lapwai, Idaho, to compete in a stick game tournament.
Though the group originates from the Saddle Lake Cree Nation, it is currently made up of members from the Treaty 6 area, most notably the Frog Lake Cree Nation, Onion Lake Cree Nation, Samson Cree Nation, Louis Bull Cree Nation, and the Poundmaker Cree Nation.
Since the group was founded, they have traveled all over North America singing at Pow-Wows in Canada and the United States and winning hundreds of championships signing titles from every major Pow-Wow. They have performed at folk festivals and have shared the beauty and vitality of their indigenous culture with First Nations/Native Americans and non-Native audiences in many communities across the United States and Canada. Their singing and songmaking skills are highly respected by Pow-Wow dancers and singers alike. Their dedication to their Cree culture, their language and the Pow-Wow way of life have touched countless people and have inspired generations of young Native Americans to further explore their rich cultures.
They have released 38 recordings spanning 25 years. Their recordings have won numerous awards including multiple Nammys (Native American Music Awards), Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, Aboriginal Peoples’ Music Choice Awards/Indigenous Music Awards and Indian Summer Music Awards. In addition, their recordings have earned them dozens of nominations over the years including 9 Grammy nominations.
In 1998, they provided music and appeared in the major theatrical film, Grey Owl, starring Pierce Brosnan and directed by Academy Award-winning director Sir Richard Attenborough. In 2013, Northern Cree completed a tour of Greenland and performed in London’s Trafalgar Square as part of the celebration of Canada Day.
In 2017, Northern Cree was also invited to perform the song “Cree Cuttin’” live on the pre-telecast portion of the show for the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in 2017. This thrilling performance was streamed worldwide. This marked the first time Native American/Indigenous traditional music was performed on the Grammy stage.
In May of 2017, Northern Cree was honored in Winnipeg as the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indigenous Music Awards.
In both 2018 and 2019, Northern Cree was invited to perform at the Annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Northern Cree’s music has been featured prominently in tracks by some of the hottest Indigenous DJs and EDM artists such as A Tribe Called Red and DJ Shub. The track “Indomitable featuring Northern Cree Singers” by DJ Shub was featured as the theme song for the acclaimed Showtime series “Who is America?” featuring Sascha Baron Cohen.
Northern Cree are role models for all Indigenous people and live by founding member Steve Wood’s motto: “If you believe in yourself, who you are, where you come from, your culture and more importantly your language, it will take you to places you have never even dreamed of.”