top of page

Bear Dance

Judy and I went to Fort Duchesne, Utah, last weekend, where I hoped to take photos of the Ute Tribe’s spring Bear Dance for the Museums of Western Colorado.


The people gathered at the Bear Dance arena were incredibly courteous and helpful when I asked if I could take photos. They did require, however, that Judy and I join them and participate in the dance.

In this annual gathering, dance partners are always chosen by the females, and, as I learned, the woman can never ask her husband, son or brother to dance. It has to be someone outside the immediate family circle.

The music is provided by singers, who also set the rhythm and tone by rubbing tubes across notched pieces of wood that mimics the sound of a bear growling or scratching his claws on a tree.. This group of singers are from Towaoc, Colorado and White Mesa, Utah. They were friendly, helpful, and allowed me to wander behind them to take photos.


The Bear Dance is an incredible social event, where everyone is polite and abides by the rules established by long tradition. In past times, it was a chance for courtship and to reconnect with friends and relatives not seen all winter.

Thanks to all the Utes who treated us with so much generosity during the Bear Dance this past weekend. And here’s a big white guy, dancing poorly.

bob dance


bob silbernagel

bob silbernagel

bottom of page