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First Voices Collaborators

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Alaina Buffalo Spirit

Elder, Ledger Artist, Storyteller


Alaina Buffalo Spirit of the Northern Cheyenne Nation of Montana is a self-taught artist who specializes in Ledger Art. Alaina began her art career in 2003 and has shown in prestigious shows such as the Kentucky Crafted in Louisville,  Ky., the Montana Folk Festival, Butte, Montana, the Windy Flats Gallery in Nye, Montana, Settlers West, Tucson, Az., the International Kite Festival in Dieppe, France to name a few. Ledger Art began in the early 1860s, it is a rare technique of painting over script on antique paper and accounting sheets.

View Alaina's work in the mentorship program and
the digital stories
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Joseph R. McGeshick

Storyteller, Poet, Educator


Joe is of Assiniboine, Chippewa, and Sioux heritage, born and raised on the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. He has taught Native American Studies, writing, and history in the high school, community college, and university levels and has published five books. McGeshick currently is a consultant for the Yellowstone County Museum’s Native American collections.

View Joe's work in the 
mentorship program
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Ben Pease

Visual Artist


Ben is currently the artist-in-residence at Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT, and his work has gained national & international attention. He was most recently named Artist-of-the-Year by the Yellowstone Art Museum’s Board of Trustees and was also commissioned to participate in a large group exhibition at the Chicago Field Museum, University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium.

View Ben's work in the mentorship program
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Ruthie Shoulderblade

Elder, Storyteller


Ruthie Shoulderblade was raised in Birney, Montana. She is Cheyenne, a Native American.

Storytelling was one of her family's cultural practices at home. She was taught by her mother cultural knowledge. Her mother also taught her sisters and herself social dance. 


Ruthie is an accountant and has worked for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe in Montana for twenty-eight years and she has a college degree in Business Management.

View Ruthie's work in the
the digital stories
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Seidel Standing Elk

Cultural Advisor, Lame Deer School


Seidel Standing Elk is a Northern Cheyenne and Suhtai Artist. He currently teaches at the Lame Deer Public School as a junior high and high school Language and Culture Studies Instructor. The art history dates back from 1990 to the present, some art shows include out-of-state and international. His art reflects traditional and contemporary styles.

View Siedel's work in the mentorship program
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Sammy Jo Bird



Sammy is an artist and barrel racer. She grew up on the Blackfeet reservation and was raised with the “ponoka'o'mitta” (Blackfeet for horse). She has always had a close relationship with horses as they have played a huge role not only in her art but in her life.


The drive and passion behind Sammy's art is not only her love for animals but her love for people. She wants her paintings to help people, make people smile, and make a positive statement. Sammy wants her paintings to be someone's escape.

View Sammy Jo's work in the digital stories
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Chontay Mitchell

Musician, Composer


Chontay R. Mitchell comes from the Rocky Boys Indian reservation of the Chippewa Cree people in Montana. Despite struggling in school growing up to due to learning disabilities, Chontay graduated from Stone Child community college with an AA degree in Liberal Arts. In the future he hopes to pursue a BA in music technology with a minor in Native American Studies. Curerntly, Chontay is working at  the Rocky Boys tribal office as a security guard. Education has always been a big part of his life along with his cultural ways as he continues to put his best foot forward and hold his head high as a proud descendent of Chippewa Cree ancestors.

View Chontay's work in the digital stories
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Tami Haaland

Author, Dean, MSUB


Tami is the author of three poetry collections, and winner of the Nicholas Roerich First Book award and reissued by Red Hen Press in 2021. Her poems have appeared in many periodicals and anthologies including The Slowdown, The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and American Life in Poetry. A former Montana Poet Laureate, she is a professor of creative writing at MSU Billings.

View Tami's work in the mentorship program
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Susan Wolfe

Art Educator, Lame Deer School


Susan teaches Visual Art at Lame Deer Jr/Sr High School on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, which had been designated as a “School of Promise” by the Montana Office of Public Instruction. At the end of her first year, Lame Deer Jr High became one of eight schools in the nation selected to participate in the TurnAround Arts Initiative which spurned a partnership with Silkroad.


View Susan's work in the mentorship program and
the digital stories
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Peter Tolton

Documentary Filmmaker


Pete is a Montana-based documentary filmmaker, educator, writer, and artist. His directorial debut, Edge of the Plains, tells the stories of nine Montana entrepreneurs who pursue their dreams while navigating the trials of life and business. Pete was awarded an artist residency from the Henry Luce III Center for the Arts and Religion at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.

View Pete's work in the mentorship program and
the digital stories
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Preeti Vasudevan

Artistic Director, Thresh


Preeti is an award-winning choreographer and performer creating provocative contemporary works from her Indian tradition. Founder and Artistic Director of Thresh, her mission is to create experimental productions that foster a provocative dialogue with identity, and our relationship with heritage cultures and contemporary life.

View Preeti's work in the mentorship program and
the digital stories
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