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:

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.
**(More information on other film panelists will be made available as panelists confirm their attendance — check back soon!)