Stella Standingbear Makes Moves | Music | Salt Lake City Weekly

Stella Standingbear Makes Moves 

Indigenous musician rides the momentum with her music

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Stella Standingbear - STEFANY MARIE
  • Stefany Marie
  • Stella Standingbear

Sometimes, making a move can change everything. Moving to a new place not only alters your physical perspective, but can also alter your views on life. Salt Lake City native Stella Standingbear made the move from Salt Lake City to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, and it has meant the world to her music career.

Standingbear was born and raised in SLC, but had gone to Pine Ridge to visit family in the past. It had been quite some time since her last visit when she went last year, but it was a great experience, and she realized it was best to move there permanently.

"I felt grounded and connected and honored to be there, and experience and learn more about my culture," she said. "It was really cool just to connect with my family, especially it being such a long time, and really feel like I was home, like this is where I was supposed to be. I felt more connected to where I come from, and more connected to who I am."

The support Standingbear has received since moving to the reservation has been outstanding, and she's feeling more motivated than ever with the Indigenous and Native community behind her. The singer/songwriter has been pumping out amazing songs since her 2022 hit debut "Home Runs," but her two most recent EPs are works that she is particularly proud of.

Still Standing and Crossing Over are two separate bodies of work, but are still able to come together and create a beautiful story of strength, resilience and pure talent. Standingbear considers Still Standing an introduction, especially because it contains her debut track "Home Runs," which was released in honor of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) movement and Native American Heritage Month.

Crossing Over was created with a feeling of movement and forward motion in mind. Standingbear played a lot of basketball when she was young, so the EP has a perfect double-meaning in its title. "Basketball is a big part of our culture, and when you do a crossover move, it's like when you outplay somebody and make that shot in. It's kind of a double-entendre of me making my crossover shot, as well as crossing over into the stardom," she explained.

Standingbear has rightfully gained a lot of attention since that first single in 2022. Some of the most meaningful recognition has come from the Indigenous Hip-Hop Awards, where she's been nominated, and won, in multiple categories.

"It was really cool because I've never been nominated for a music award, let alone won any," she said. "It was definitely a beautiful moment in my career, especially because Pine Ridge Reservation is actually the poorest reservation in the United States. So to bring home these awards, it's like I'm also bringing these awards not only for myself and my family and my team, but also for everyone on the reservation, especially the young kids who look up to me. Life is pretty tough here, so also bringing back that motivation and inspiration, and showing them that they can do this as well."

Working for and with her community is a big part of why Standingbear does what she does. She dedicates a lot of her time and energy to the MMIW movement to bring awareness to the epidemic of violence Indigenous women face. Her large following is the perfect way to spread awareness and get more information on the movement out to the public.

"It's something that's a really big issue in our community, and it doesn't get as much media coverage as it should," she said. "A lot of cases are never counted, are never filed, never counted or eligible to count. I do what I can, whether it's raising money or sharing a story or talking about it at my shows. I think those conversations and having those open conversations with our community could save a life."

As we continue through Native American Heritage Month, Standingbear urges everyone to learn about the movement and research MMIW groups in your area; as there's not one national MMIW nonprofit, it's broken down by state. Here, it's MMIW+ of Utah, and they can be found on Instagram and Facebook under that name. Every bit helps when it comes to spreading the word on the issue.

"Either reaching out to volunteer your time, or if you want to contribute with some funding, that's also an option, or it could be as little as following them and sharing their posts whenever there's someone missing. Take that time to reshare and repost," Standingbear said.

Stella Standingbear is making moves—whether it's a quick crossover, or a song that makes waves, you can count on her to not to hold still. With that movement, she hopes to help people through her impactful music.

"I hope whatever that listeners are going through, that my music is able to help them. Helps them find the light in any darkness that they may be facing, and that they're strong and they can get through whatever they're going through," she said.

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About The Author

Emilee Atkinson

Emilee Atkinson

Ogden native Emilee Atkinson has spent her life obsessing over music and enjoying writing. Eventually, she decided to combine the two. She’s the current music editor of City Weekly.

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