Honoring Our Stories: Trapper Creek Students

A group of American Indian Trapper Creek Job Corps students from Darby, Montana devoted a weekend to participating in an Honoring Our Stories digital storytelling workshop. They worked to identify the strong story within their histories and to reconnect to the strength that has guided them. For many of our participants, this was the first time being asked to share their story. These youth felt inspired to express vulnerability because they believe what they have experienced might inspire other people. We applaud them in their courage and are excited to have them share their insight with our community.

The participants are as follows: 

Raina Cooeyate, Union Carpentry (Assiniboine Sioux and Gros Ventre)

Leighton Denetsosie, Facility Maintenance (Ponca)

Elvin Dog Taking Gun, Welding (Blackfeet)

Desiree Fast Buffalo Horse, Union Painting (Blackfeet)

Alec Iron, Culinary Arts (Crow)

Antonio Lang, Union Paining (Ute Mountain Ute)

Dean MadPlume Jr, Union Masonry (Blackfeet)

Jonathan Pemberton, Union Carpentry (Blackfeet)

Film Panelists:


Tantoo Cardinal

Actress Tantoo Cardinal is a member of the Order of Canada, one of the country’s highest civilian honors. The Order of Canada recognizes Cardinal for her contributions to the growth and development of Aboriginal performing arts in Canada. Arguably the most widely recognized Native Actress of her generation; Tantoo has appeared in numerous plays, television programs, and films, including Legends of the Fall, Dances With Wolves, Black Robe, Loyalties, Luna, Spirit of the Whale, and Smoke Signals. Tantoo has been honored for her many accomplishments and contributions to the Native artistic community, with a lifetime contribution Eagle Spirit Award from the Native Indian Film Festival in 1990. In 1998, she received a National Aboriginal Achievement Award to recognize her work in theater, television and film.

Tantoo will do a one-on-one discussion post-film discussion with festival co-organizer, Ivan MacDonald, and will be available for a Q&A after the film. Please join us on Saturday after the premiere of Falls Around Her for this special opportunity to speak with and learn from one of the most prominent Indigenous actresses of our time



Suzanne Shope

Suzanne Shope is of Métis and Scottish descent from central Montana who follows the traditions of many artists in her family. She holds degrees from The New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred and The University of Montana. She has an interdisciplinary doctorate in Art Education and Native American Studies from the University of Montana 2009. She currently works as a producer, cultural consultant, fine art professional and art education teacher. Shope has held teaching positions at Minot State University, and adjunct positions at The University of Montana and The University of Montana – Western. She is a practicing visual artist who exhibits regionally. She is working on a paper focusing on her experiences developing a decolonizing pedagogy broadly focused on non-western material culture, art and media art for rural Montana colleges and museums.





Meg Singer

Meg Singer started with the ACLU of Montana in the fall of 2016. Meg is a native of Salt Lake City, UT, and a member of the Navajo Nation. After graduating from Westminster College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature, Meg moved to Polson, MT, to work as a student advisor for Salish Kootenai College. Meg’s passion for indigenous justice and the rights of Native American and Alaskan Native people took her to Bozeman, MT, to earn her Master of Arts degree in Native American Studies. While in Bozeman, Meg co-led the campaign to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day for the city of Bozeman and Montana State University. She also brought “The Sun Dance Opera,” a 1913 opera written by Yankton Dakota activist Zitkala-sa, to the President’s Fine Arts series. Singing is a family tradition for the Singers, and both Meg’s sister and her brother performed in the opera. Meg’s open and welcoming personality, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for the hard work of bringing racial justice to Montana is an important and game-changing presence in the ACLU. 




Maya Rose Dittloff

Maya Rose Dittloff is an enrolled member of the Three Affiliated Tribes and is a Blackfeet and Chippewa descendent.  She holds a degree from UCLA and the School of Theater, Film and Television where she specialized in Screenwriting and Cinematography to aid in her pursuit of becoming a writer/director. In 2018, Maya was named a Creative Visions + The XX Fund Emerging Filmmaker and an NBC Universal Scholar. Most recently she was recognized by the Sovereign Bodies Institute as their 2019 Emerging Leader on the issue of MMIWG. She is currently employed in TV Development at Paramount Television and is attached to direct the TV series PERMA RED, based off the novel from Salish author Debra Magpie Earling and currently in development with Ramo Law Firm.



Kate Shanley

Kate Shanley teaches in the Native American Studies Department at the University of Montana, where she serves as chair of the department and special assistant to the provost. A long-time educator, Dr. Shanley is an enrolled tribal member of the Nakoda Nation on the Ft. Peck Reservation.









Ivy McDonald

Ivy MacDonald is a Blackfeet and Shoshone filmmaker enrolled in the Blackfeet Tribe. She received her BFA in Digital Film making from the University of Montana, in 2016. She has worked as a freelance filmmaker since then. She has worked with Tracy Rector at Longhouse media and was a fellow for Tracy’s Fourth World Media Lab at the Seattle International Film Festival. For the past year and a half she has been documenting the stories of missing and murdered indigenous women in the state of Montana and is currently in production for her first feature length documentary When They Were Here. She is also attached to the Perma Red TV series as an assistant cinematographer and was recently named a fellow for Big Sky Documentary Film Festival’s Native Filmmaker Initiate. She is also producing a documentary with ESPN about a boxing club set on the Blackfeet Reservation. 
Brooke Pepion Swaney

Brooke (Blackfeet/Salish) is a 2014 Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellow and a 2013 Time Warner Fellow through the Sundance Institute. Ok Breathe Auralee, her NYU graduate thesis film, screened at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and has TV distribution with FNX (First Nations Experience, a PBS affiliate). Amongst editing, Brooke’s experience also includes producing Bella Vista (Rotterdam 2014) and Vision Maker Media funded New Media project Sixty Flour Flood (PBS digital). She also worked with Revolution Messaging on the Bernie Sanders 2016 Presidential campaign on their digital media team, producing, directing and editing; her Native Outreach ad I AM HUMAN received over 3 million hits on Facebook. Presently, she is in post-production on her first feature length documentary, Daughter of a Lost Bird, funded by Vision Maker Media.

Elizabeth A. Castle
Elizabeth “Beth” Castle  brings almost 20 years of experience as a scholar, activist, and media maker working in collaboration with Native Nations and underrepresented communities. Castle is a committed anti-racist ally and is descended from the Pekowi band of the Shawnee in Ohio  – both of which shape how she engages with community-based scholarship, filmmaking and organizing. WARRIOR WOMEN is based on the research done for her book “Women were the Backbone, Men were the Jawbone: Native Women’s Activism in the Red Power Movement.” While completing her Ph.D. at Cambridge University, she worked as a policy associate for President Clinton’s Initiative on Race and in 2001 she served as a delegate for the Indigenous World Association at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. While working as an academic specialist for UC Berkeley’s Oral History Office, she received the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Santa Cruz under the supervision of Professors Angela Davis and Bettina Aptheker. Dr. Castle was a professor in the Native Studies Department at the University of South Dakota and is the founder and director of The Warrior Women Oral History Project. 
Naatosi Fish
Naatosi Fish attended the Cutswood Blackfoot Immersion school as a child and there developed a fluency in Blackfoot and a passion for language revitalization. He has been an avid student of Blackfoot since, and has worked with his collaborator Mizuki Miyashita to conduct research on the Blackfoot language which has led to two papers being published on Blackfoot phonology. Naatosi Graduated in 2018 with his Bachelors in Community Health and a minor in Linguistics, he is currently a Masters student studying business and teaches Blackfoot at the University of Montana as well as occasional informal classes for the Missoula Urban Indian Health Center.

Mali Matt

“ʔe, pesyaʔ Smʔem St̓ašn łu I nqlixʷskʷest.”

“Hello Everyone. Lady Moccasin is my Indian name.”

Born in St. Ignatius Montana, Mali Matt, a few months after birth, was taken from her native family and placed on a farm outside of Polson Montana for 18 years. “Once I was in the foster care system, I lost all hope of ever being with my real native family again. It was a very sad part of my life.” It took Mali Matt many years before she found her culture and native language. She is a Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Member and is a Qlispé (Kalispel) native. “I didn’t know where my grandparents, my parents, my family went, but I still found my identity and my culture thanks to Aliksa Quequesah.” 

For the last 15 years, Mali Matt has dedicated her life to learn her native Salish language and culture. She taught Salish at the Salish Kootenai College in Pablo Montana where she met Aliksa Quequsah. She participated in many language programs to help revitalize the Salish language and is currently on her 5th year of teaching in Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Early Childhood Services in Pablo, Montana. Mali Matt speaks Salish for her sx̣epeʔ (Grandfather) Dewey Matt even though she never met him. She hopes he hears her speaking in the Salish language.

LaNada Peppers
I am a woman with ancestors that have resided in North America for thousands of generations. I am an enrolled member of the Northern Cheyenne nation and a descendent of the Crow nation. I am a part of the Whistling Water clan of the Mountain Crow people. I have worked for years as a journalist, media specialist, and communications manager for organizations both large and small before deciding to achieve a Master’s degree in Media Arts. Here is where I am working to hone my skills in photography, filmmaking, and digital storytelling. I am also a writer, artist, and poet. I am an activist who stands on the platform of racial justice and humanity. It is my passion to provide an outlet for indigenous people to tell their own stories and record our own histories as we push forward into a future where we not only exist but are heard loudly and clearly above the din of the modern world.
Destini Rose
Destini’s favorite season is the moving out of a hard winter into chinook winds. She belongs to the Blackfeet Nation, but currently lives in Missoula, Montana, where she misses the wind and is still not sure what the berry season is around here. Instilled with a sense of radical activism by her mom and an urgent need to seek out artsy weirdness by her dad, Destini writes poetry and makes mostly experimental films while organizing around environmental stewardship and Native issues. She is also the founder of the Blackfeet Anti-Fracking Coalition and believes community education and investigative journalism are some of the most effective forms of activism. The highlight of her journalism endeavors so far was to have a story she broke reported by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now as well as several other national American and American Indian news outlets. Destini’s current focus is the mitigation of the catastrophe that is global warming and the power that sovereign Indigenous nations hold in this effort.