First Voices


What students are saying...

This project is a great way to promote our culture and show people that we are still here and our way is not lost... this is a great idea and I'm thankful that these artists are taking time out of their lives to do this because not everyone knows about us. Our creation stories are something that will be passed down for many generations to come.

Samuel Haugen, Senior, Lame Deer High School

It was powerful, unique, and well-spoken. I especially love how my culture is introduced and how well the story presented itself... Seeing it being displayed in an artistic vision, watching it all mesh well together, the music, the story, and the body language. It was engaging and different. First Voices is inspiring me!

Latessa Twobulls, Lame Deer High School

Our culture is very very beautiful from the stories to the paintings, beadwork, and people. It would be great to see it come alive.

Davinia, Lame Deer High School

What elders are saying...

Young people are very interested. I have nieces and nephews that are just so interested in getting these stories told to them, and it has to do with their cultural knowledge. They always want to hear these stories that are important to us still… it gives them a glimpse of how it was. We are no longer free-spirited. We were put on reservations…and now it is such a hardship. America doesn’t consider us human beings...

Ruthie Shoulderblade, Cheyenne Elder

It’s universal, in a way, the way that the tribes are related. We may have different designs, but we are all universal in the respect for mother earth, in our culture, our children, our ways of life. It’s all universal throughout America with Natives.

Alaina Buffalo Spirit, Cheyenne Elder

There’s a lot of hardship in this story. [Young people] can take away that they can have endurance and that they can have faith.... Hope is something that we have to work towards... For me, we would as parents and as middle age people, we would have to work hard to ensure that that’s not lost. I see this event that we are doing to be a great part of it because you can see and know and understand where it came from.

Ruthie Shoulderblade, Cheyenne Elder

What artists are saying...

It will give them [young people] the inspiration to strive towards art… to believe that through art there are a lot of possibilities. This project specifically will empower them… it will show them not to be ashamed of who they are as native people. It will empower them to be proud as Native People. This is a good project to show youth around the world.

Chontay Standing Rock, Musician & Composer

Although many Indigenous communities actively reclaim their narrative, allyship is still necessary. I believe this partnership will assist in the perpetuation of culture and heritage and highlight potential in the sovereignty of storytelling for cultural groups.

Ben Pease, Visual Artist

This project is really important and I’m very proud to be a part of it… I’m really proud to be a part of a project that is helping students know their background and stories but also helping promote and encouraging students to express themselves, find their art form, and capitalize on it.

Sammy Jo Bird, Visual Artist

What educators are saying...

This is important for many of our traditional people and indigenous nations because it’s a voice that is often not heard. To do it in this way, provides an avenue for others to know a little bit more about us, to have some of the original elders of this continent share some of their knowledge is an excellent way to come together and move forward in a positive way.

Don Wetzel Jr., Tribal Relations Advisor & Blackfeet Tribal Member

First Voices is going to bring some amazing opportunities, chances for students who had very little chance to express themselves in a large venue, partner with professionals, and other individuals from their own culture across the state in other tribes… I see my students gaining amazing confidence and inspiration.

Susan Wolfe, Art Educator Lame Deer High School

I am so thankful to have had the opportunity to work with Preeti and First Voices. What an incredible program that truly spans generations and brings communities together. Preeti has an incredible way of working with people, making them feel comfortable and bringing out the best in them. I look forward to seeing what else will be accomplished with First Voices in the future!

Carrie Got-Nettlon, Educator Director at Yellowstone Art Museum

Project Outcomes

  • Enhance social engagement & academic performance through visual arts, music, theater, movement, writing, film making, and more

  • Use storytelling as a healing tool to address trauma and loss, and inspire leadership

  • Increase confidence through group learning and team-building workshops

  • Mentor Indigenous youth towards a vocation in digital technology

  • Partner with both Native and non-Native artists to build better intercultural relationships