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.
"Creating and sharing stories will help build a stronger community with more empathy because I could tell the story to my younger family members. They would most likely be more curious and they would want to tell other people. I was trying to make an example of how this can make a stronger community with more empathy."
—Jaunita, Lame Deer High School
Year 1: Northern Cheyenne Reservation
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 Northern 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.