FIRST VOICES: Creation stories from Montana

First Voices: Creation Stories from Montana is a ground-breaking educational partnership between New York based arts organization Thresh, and the Indigenous communities of Montana. The project goal is to inspire young children and young adults (Grades 4-12) to find their own unique voice in the contemporary world through re-connection with ancient wisdom.


This all-digital project creates video performances that feature contemporary interpretations of ancient legends from these communities, created and performed by artists from each community. Through online performance videos and related educational media (including lesson plans for educators) the project aims to inspire children and young adultsdeveloping self-confidence and leadership skills that will empower them them to become agents of change within their communities and beyond.

Northern Cheyenne Elders Ruthie Shoulderblade (storyteller) and Alaina Buffalo Spirit (visual artist)

The project was launched in December 2020 with a performance developed between Thresh and artists from three Montana tribes (Northern Cheyenne, Chippewa Cree and Blackfeet).

THE STORY: Tsèhésenèstsestotse

(or "How the BIg Dipper was formed")


FIRST VOICES is a collaboration between Preeti Vasudevan (Artistic Director, Thresh) and artists from the communities of the Northern Cheyenne and other tribes (text to be added)


All social impact projects undertaken by Thresh establish clear goals at the outset. These goals follow the well-established SMART rubric: goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.


Evaluation of the First Voices project is on-going. The project's impact is carefully evaluated against metrics ranging from the short-term and tactical (e.g. “is the technology infrastructure in place for our audience to enjoy a meaningful online experience?”) to longer-term goals and outcomes (e.g “are attitudes and behaviours changing in a way that is having a long-term positive impact on society?”)

The metrics and techniques used to evaluate the First Voices pilot project pertain to four inter-dependent dimensions as follows:


  1. Audience reach: Are we able to reach our target audience? Is the online content delivered in a format that can easily be accessed via existing technology?

  2. Audience enjoyment: Does our audience find the content (website) easy to navigate? Is the creative approach to storytelling appealing and engaging for our audience?

  3. Audience attitudes: Do individuals who interact with our content experience a change in their attitudes, and do they commit to new behaviours that will further the stated goals of the project?

  4. Audience action: Do individuals follow-through on their commitment to action in a way that is likely to achieve long-term change for the better in the Republic of Lebanon?


Tools for measuring success against targets will deploy mixed methods—from online engagement metrics (through blogs, social media and web presence) through to longer-term bias-free surveys to establish shifts in attitudes resulting from the project.


Measurements will be both quantitative and qualitative, as we evaluate the project's contribution to achieving both short-term and long-term impact goals. Interviews with broader stakeholders in the project (such as educators and teachers who use the stories in class) will also help to establish a realistic and practical assessment of impact on the ground.

Content Partners

The Alwan Project has been developed and supported by the Adyan Foundation, whose mission is to promote diversity, solidarity and human dignity in Lebanon.

Learning Partners

Learn Interactive, our learning partner for this project, are specialists in developing learning programs for both corporate and arts organizations.

Lead Sponsor

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We are grateful for the support of the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut.

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