Honoring our Stories: Families Healing Together

The compounding effects of complex historical and intergenerational trauma on Montana’s Native people have had devastating effects. Native people in Montana experience disproportionately high rates of incarceration, recidivism, substance abuse, and neglect and abuse as children, among other adverse effects on health and wellbeing. Historical trauma means that Native people’s internal landscapes have been ravished by the effects of stress hormones such as cortisol, which have changed the neurologic response to stress and trauma. These chemical responses have been passed down through the generations as the body’s baseline norm in the handling of everyday life.


Generations later, the injustices of historical trauma continue to influence the current systemic brokenness within Indian Country.

Today at MUIHC, we see Native families struggling to find the balance of staying grounded in their Native heritage while finding success in dominant society. In Missoula, you will find members from all of Montana’s seven tribes successfully working and going to school in the community – and also members of all the tribes entangled in court proceedings and jail. These troubled Native families have often internalized shame and blame from historical trauma, which paralyzes their ability to live a healthy lifestyle. Their shame could potentially be transformed with understanding of their life experience in terms of intergenerational and historical trauma.


Hence, we have offered our clients a processing and healing opportunity we entitled Honoring our Stories: Families Healing Together. This program acknowledges this bigger societal picture of historical trauma. However, rather than placing blame on historical policies, our program instead externalizes the shame and relieves clients from feelings that they are failures due to lack of strength. Our hope is to give struggling families the chance to process their trauma history in a supportive and healing environment that validates their experience and helps them re-frame their stories, creating a new path of healing. The digital stories shared in this Indigenous Film Festival are the results of that experience and an ongoing opportunity to share their voices.

Local Digital Story Tellers:

  • Cammie Pablo 
    • My name is Cammie Pablo, from Pablo (I love Pablo), and I am Salish from the Flathead Reservation.  After what I can only describe as a very traumatic and lesson-filled life, I was finally able to begin finding out who I truly am.  I am the extremely lucky and blessed mom to five of the most incredible beings in the universe.  My babies amaze me all the time and I find myself in a constant state of pride (I also have human moments where I want to scream and rip my hair out, let’s keep it real..).  I am married to the man who instantly became my closest friend the moment we met.  I am a ridiculous H.P. fanatic (that would be Harry Potter, for all you muggles), live for music (Tupac and Kendrick), a Seahawks fan since childhood (thanks dad), and someday I am going to be on Oprah’s book club list (I know you’ll see this, so, “Hi Oprah!”).  I am currently attending the U of M where my focus in school is to obtain a bachelor’s degree in Native American Studies and minor in psychology, after which I plan to attend the Alexander Blewett III School of Law (I will be the best to come out of there).  I believe there is no such thing as too much self-reflection and that we are all capable of growing ourselves, thereby creating new, healthy experiences.
  • Jordynn Paz
    • Hi! My name is Jordynn Paz, I am 19 years old and am a member of the Apsaalooke nation of Montana. I am a second-year student at the University of Montana studying Journalism and Native American Studies. I grew up on the Crow Indian Reservation and am very involved in my communities both at home and here on campus. I’m not a super serious person, I’m actually quite a goofball and am often told I am very dorky. I love to make others smile in whatever ways I can, building others up and supporting them is something I take pride in. I love food, movies, books, sleep and writing. I dislike spicy food, horror movies, audio-books, waking up early and papers with due dates. My favorite foods are spaghetti, cantaloupe, mac n cheese, and baked goods. I’ve never seen Forest Gump, Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings or Pulp Fiction. A quote I live by is, “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” -John Green
  • Robin Charlo
    • My name is Robin Charlo, an Urban Indian proudly from the Flathead Nation. Having an unstable childhood not taught about life and goals. I remained in neutral. Never knowing what to do or how to feel. My life had begun when I had my children, I now had happiness and my heart came alive. I rejoiced watching teaching and learning with them. Always taking Day Care jobs to learn more about kids. Kids really amaze me. We now are together and suffer no more.


Film Panelists:

  • Alex Lazarowich
    • Alex Lazarowich is a Cree filmmaker whose work has screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Film Society of Lincoln Centre, the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) and at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC. She has received funding from BravoFact, CBC, the Canada Council for the Arts, and her films have screened at festivals around the world. Her most recent role was as Creative Director for the new Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton, Alberta (opening in Fall 2018). She directed thirty-one unique audio and video elements for the museum’s new Human History wing illuminating the cultures and histories of the Blackfoot, Cree, Denesųłįné, Dene Tha’, Métis, Nakota and Stoney Nakoda.
  • Amy Chesebro, MSW, SWLC
    • I have lived in Missoula for the last 11 years and have been actively working within the criminal justice system here locally since 2014. I have been at the Missoula County Detention Facility since 2015 working with the Jail Diversion Behavioral Health Program with Western Montana Mental Health Center. Currently, I also Co-Chair a local coalition, Partners for Reintegration, our mission is to increase opportunities for returning citizens to succeed in reintegrating into communities through advocacy, education & collaboration. I am also a coordinator for Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Missoula strives to build strong partnerships between law enforcement, mental health providers, and individuals and families affected by mental illness. The C.I.T system attempts to divert mentally-ill individuals from the Montana State Hospital and the criminal justice system when possible and safe, and instead connect them to appropriate local mental health services that allow them to stay in their communities.
  • Ann Miller
    • Ann Miller has been an attorney with the Tribal Defenders Office of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes on the Flathead Reservation in Montana for 20 years and the managing attorney for 11. During her tenure, the Defenders Office implemented an innovative in-house service for clients with co-occurring mental health and chemical dependency and adopted a holistic defense practice with assistance from the Center for Holistic Defense sponsored by the Bronx Public Defenders Office in New York. Ms. Miller served on Montana’s Public Defender Commission for 6 years and currently serves on Montana’s Statewide Reentry Task Force.
  • Betsey Muligan-Dague (Jeannette Rankin Peace Center director)
    • Betsy Mulligan-Dague has a 30 year history as a clinical social worker helping families and individuals address challenges in their lives. She has taught numerous groups to look at ways they can understand the emotions and needs behind communication. Since 2005, she has been the Executive Director of the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, where she has continued to focus on ways people can increase their communication skills to become better at peacemaking and conflict resolution, believing that our difference will never be as important as the things we have in comon. She recently was featured in a full-length documentary, Beyond the Divide: The Courage to Find Common Ground about her efforts to build bridges between peace advocates and veterans. Betsy is the current president of the Missoula Sunrise Rotary Club.She is available to speak on peace, peacemaking, conflict resolution, team building, nonviolent communication, women’s issues, social activism, the history and importance of Jeannette Rankin as well as specifics of nonprofit management, fair trade and earned income.
  • Ciara Lacy (Director and Producer)
    • Ciara is a native Hawaiian filmmaker whose interest lies in crafting films that use strong characters and investigative journalism to challenge the creative and political status quo. She has produced documentary content for film and television, managed independent features, as well as coordinated product placement and clearances for various platforms. Her work has shown in theaters and has aired on PBS, ABC, TLC, Discovery, Bravo and A&E. Ciara is honored to be the inaugural Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellow and a current Princess Grace Awards Special Project grantee. She has also benefited from fellowships with Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab, the Sundance Institute and Time Warner Foundation, the Sundance Institute’s NativeLab, the Princess Grace Foundation, and IFP. Ciara holds a BA from Yale University, and graduated from Hawai`i’s Kamehameha Schools.
  • Debra Earling (Salish professor/author)
    • Debra Magpie Earling is the author of the award winning novel Perma Red and The Lost Journals of Sacajewea. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Montana.
  • Gyda Swaney (Salish)
    • Dr. Gyda Swaney’s training in clinical psychology is broad and has focused on trauma, resilience, historical trauma, intimate partner violence, addictions, and client’s interface with the courts. She received her PhD from the University of Montana – Missoula and completed her Internship at Boston City Hospital/Boston University Medical School. She has taught, practiced, and worked both on and off reservations (including her own) and brings to her work cultural, clinical, relational, and professional knowledge. She teaches multicultural psychology courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, and supervises graduate students’ clinical work. She has served as PI or co-PI on service and research grants with goals to increase capacity, provide culturally competent care to AI children and adults, train providers, and deliver evidence based practices to tribal communities. Dr. Swaney has mentored AI students’ research on issues in Indian Country (trauma, teen pregnancy, racial stressors, depression) and published and presented with them at research conferences and to tribal communities. She is knowledgeable in indigenous, qualitative, and quantitative methodologies and Community Based Participatory Research. She has worked as a consultant and served on the Boards of Directors for schools and agencies serving AI children and their families and programs/schools growing proud and strong AI youth with a strong cultural identity that provides a buffer to the stressors AI children (and adults) experience on an on-going basis. She has a demonstrated history of working successfully in Indian Country and collaborating on teams focusing on critical issues AI populations face. She has been acknowledged and recognized by the University of Montana, the Missoula Community, her home reservation—the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes, and the American Psychological Association. She maintains a small private practice in addition to being a proud sister, mother, auntie, and grandmother.
  • Henry H Fowler (Skype Panelist for Math Circles)
    • Henry H Fowler is from Tonalea, Arizona. He is a member of the Navajo Tribe. He is the Chair of the Mathematics/Physics/Technology department of Dine College in Tsaile, Arizona. Dr. Fowler received his Bachelor’s degree in mathematics education and Master’s degree in Education from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona and received his Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Change from Fielding Graduate University in Santa Barbara, California. He has been teaching math for over 20 years.Dr. Fowler is the co-founder of the Navajo Math Circles. The Navajo Math Circles provides teacher workshops for grades K–12 and works with over 40 mathematicians to promote math education for students of the Navajo Nation. His research interests lie in the area of Ethnomathematics. Dr. Fowler’s passion is promoting math literacy and advocating for social justice through mathematics. He strongly supports relevant cultural materials to guide instruction.
  • Ivan MacDonald (Blackfeet)
    • Ivan MacDonald is a graduate student at the University of Montana working towards a Master’s degree in Social Work. He is Blackfeet and Shoshone, and is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe, in Browning, MT. He is currently a research assistant at the University studying re-entry needs for Native American women incarcerated at the Montana Women’s Prison in Billings.  Ivan has a personal story related to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis. His cousin, Monica, was kidnapped and murdered in the early 80’s. He and his sister Ivy have been studying the crisis for the past year and have presented on the topic across the state. In 2017 they made a short documentary about MMIWG, titled When They Were Here.
      When They Were Here, is a documentary focused on the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis. The film tries to focus on the crisis from indigenous points of views and focuses on understanding the issue from the communities that are affected most by it.  The film focuses on storytelling and indigenous oral history and centers the issue in the state of Montana. The filmmakers are currently in the research and development stage of the film and plan to start a full production for the film in the fall of 2018.
  • Ivy MacDonald
    • Ivy MacDonald, is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe from Browning, Montana. She earned a BFA in digital film-making from The University of Montana in 2107. Currently she’s working on a documentary around the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. She is also employed by Longhouse Media a Seattle indigenous owned production company as a production assistant. She has most recently worked on a documentary in Washington DC and is going to California next month to help again on documentary produced by Longhouse Media. As documentary film maker her main focus is Indigenous stories and Indigenous forms of story telling. 
  • Joseph Grady (Blackfeet)
  • 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.
  • Matt Roscoe
    • Matt Roscoe learned he loved mathematics while growing up in Billings, MT.  After studying out of state and teaching overseas he returned to Montana as a young adult to teach mathematics to middle- and high-school students.  He currently is a professor of mathematics education at the University of Montana where he enjoys exploring mathematics with future teachers.  His research aims to identify and develop educational activities that promote creative and investigative learning experiences in mathematics.  He is one of the founding members of the Montana Math Teachers’ Circle.
  • Maylinn Smith
    • Maylinn Smith is the Co-Director of the Margery Hunter Brown Indian Law Clinic at the University of Montana, Alexander Blewett III School of Law. For more than two decades she has supervised third year law students in the Indian Law Clinic working on a variety of legal projects for tribal governments, organizations and individuals. In addition to handling litigation involving Indian issues in tribal, state or federal courts, the Indian Law Clinic drafts tribal codes; provides training to tribal justice systems, federal agencies and Indian organizations on requirements and procedures in accordance with Indian law principles; assists with tribal economic development; represents parties in Indian Child Welfare Act matters and comments on legislation at the tribal, state and federal level. She has acted, or is currently acting, as an appellate judge for the Blackfeet Nation, Fort Peck Tribes, Crow Nation and the Southwest Intertribal Court of Appeals. She previously was Chief Judge of the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Court, legal advisor for the Salish & Kootenai Tribal Court and did private practice work. She recently established and is currently seeking funding for the Louise Burke Center for Holistic Representation to provide direct representation to American Indian people.
  • 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.Though Navajo tradition dictates humbleness and refraining from speaking about oneself, we cannot help but say how excited we are to have Meg on board. Her 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. 
  • Patrick Weasel Head
    • PATRICK WEASEL HEAD, currently retired and enjoying community service of volunteering for the Missoula Meals on Wheels program.  He was the past Director of the Office of American Indian Student Services with the goal of developing a comprehensive approach to supporting American Indian students as they enter the university system retired in July 2007 with a post retirement effort with the University of Montana School of Education and Graduate School, to assist in recruiting and retaining indigenous students in the teaching profession as well as graduate students in science fields. With over 20 years of educational experience in “Indian Country” and a strong proponent of educational attainment, Dr. Weasel Head continues to push the agenda for educational opportunities.  He has a doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Oregon, Eugene and a Masters in Guidance and Counseling and, Bachelors in Business Administration from the University of Montana.                  Patrick has experience in being a Tribal College Dean, a K-12 school teacher/counselor, a program evaluator, a proposal review member for NASA, NSF, NIH, DoE, and private foundations.  He has worked on multi-state collaborations, multi-cultural programs, and community based efforts.  He served on Missoula City Council for 11 months filling in a vacant term and most recently, named the 2016 Jeannette Rankin Peace Center Peacemaker of the year and the 2018 Montana Alumni Award.  He is currently running for House District 89 out of Missoula. Patrick has a varied racial composition, as he is a descendent of three tribal groups:  Enrolled Siksika (Blackfeet), and member of the Atsina (Gros Ventre), and Assiniboine tribes.  He is also of four European groups:  Norwegian, English, Irish and French.