First Voices Mentorship Program
First Voices' year-long semester-based mentorship program serves young adults in Title I reservation schools. Workshops reconnect high-school students from the First Nations with their heritage by documenting and re-creating ancestral stories, using contemporary online media production techniques. Students create an interpretation of the stories they discover from their elders, working with professional artists (from both inside and outside their communities) to develop artwork, music, and choreography. The output of this process is a short performance video with behind the scene footage that is published to an online gallery.
The workshop process is both personal, as each student explores their individual voice, and also intensely collaborative in all aspects of storytelling including video and audio production.
Year 1: Lame Deer High School
September 2021 – May 2022
June 2022: Premiere of "The Great Race"
The final phase of this program,"The Great Race" Premiere is the students’ interpretation of the ancient Cheyenne story told through art, narrative, and choreography. Premiered at Yellowstone Art Museum, the filming was accompanied by a panel discussion with students and artists, reinforcing the deep need for intertribal collaboration.
March 2022 Workshop
The second phase helped to scaffold and generate the students’ version of their ancestral story infused with personal approaches to creative expression. Activities included self-exploration through team-building exercises and personal reflections using movement, visual art, poetry and more. Students documented the process of creation to share the impact of this collaborative journey at the project's conclusion.
September 2021 Workshop
Thresh initiated a new collaboration with Montana State University, Billings alongside Lame Deer High School to host the inaugural First Voices Mentorship Program. Artists interacted with ten students from the Lame Deer school across multiple disciplines of storytelling. In this initial phase, students learned choreography, visual art expression, and introductory filmmaking and camera presentation tips. These new skills were combined as students created their own interpretations of an ancient Northern Cheyenne story.
"The trip brought me closer to my classmates... I was told the Great Race story growing up and it was fun to retell it as a dance and meet other people doing it."
Shondine Kaline, Lame Deer High School
Storytelling Workshops with Lame Deer High School Students
Mentorship Program Skills and Outcomes
Throughout the program, students learn skills from professional artists to contemporary interpretations of ancient legends:
Narration & visual art techniques
Film performance & script adaptation
Storyboarding for film
Digital filming and post-production learning
Music composition, audio recording & practical studio application
Dance & movement interpretation of stories
Virtual & in-person presentation skills