James M. Fortier – Producer/Director/DP/Editor
James is an accomplished, award-winning documentary filmmaker with national PBS credits and numerous film festival screenings of his body of work over the past 20 years. His first documentary, Alcatraz Is Not An Island screened at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in 2001 and aired nationally on PBS and APTN in Canada.
Since 1995, James’ documentaries have focused primarily on Native American and environmental issues. He has won numerous awards, including 3 Regional Emmy Awards and the DuPont Columbia Award For Broadcast Journalism as episode Producer and Director for Bad Sugar, part of the national PBS health series Unnatural Causes: Is Society Making Us Sick? James’ latest documentary, Gifts From the Elders recently screened at several film festivals, including the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, and aired on PBS in 2014.
Other documentary works include the six hour PBS Ojibwe series Waasa Inaabidaa: We Look In All Directions, Voices for the Land, Indian Country Diaries: Spiral of Fire, Playing Pastime: American Indians, Softball, and Survival, Green Green Water, and two documentaries for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Pulling Together, and Gathering Together.
In 2007 James was the Artist in Residence at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where he conducted a four week video production lab for the American Indian Studies Department course, American Indian Stereotypes in Film, and presented several of his documentaries for students and faculty.
James is an enrolled member of the Biigtigong Nishnaabeg First Nation (formerly called The Ojibways of Pic River First Nation), located in Ontario, Canada. Born in Nipigon, Ontario, Canada and raised near Chicago, James moved to the San Francisco area to complete his college education in 1983.
LeAnne Howe – Eidson Distinguished Professor, Department of English – University of Georgia, Athens
LeAnne Howe is an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She writes fiction, poetry, screenplays, creative non-fiction, plays and scholarship that primarily deal with American Indian experiences. Her short fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Fiction International, Callaloo, Story, Yalobusha Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere, and has been translated in France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark. She has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale Writers Residency, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
Her first novel Shell Shaker (Aunt Lute Books, 2001) received an American Book Award in 2002 from the Before Columbus Foundation. The novel was a finalist for the 2003 Oklahoma Book Award, and awarded Wordcraft Circle Writer of the Year, 2002. Equinoxes Rouge, the French translation, was the 2004 finalist for Prix Medici Estranger, one of France’s top literary awards. Evidence of Red (Salt Publishing, UK, 2005) won the Oklahoma Book Award for poetry in 2006, and the Wordcraft Circle Award for 2006. Miko Kings: An American Indian Baseball Story (Aunt Lute Books, 2007) is the story of a Choctaw baseball pitcher Hope Little Leader, Justina Maurepas, his black-Indian lover, an all-Indian baseball team, and Ezol Day, a Choctaw postal worker who comes back across time to tell her story to a woman who should have been her granddaughter. Set in 1907 and 2006, the novel spans nearly 100 years and examines the roots of American baseball. In 2014, Howe’s memoir Choctalking on Other Realities, Aunt Lute Books, 2013, won the first MLA prize for Studies in Native American Literature, Cultures, and Languages.
LeAnne was the screenwriter and on-camera narrator for the 90-minute PBS documentary Indian Country Diaries: Spiral of Fire that aired nationally in 2006. Part memoir, part tribal history the film takes Howe (Choctaw) to the North Carolina homelands of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to discover how their fusion of tourism, community, and cultural preservation is the key to the tribe’s health in the twenty-first century. Along the way Howe seeks to reconcile her own identity as the daughter of a Cherokee father she never knew.
Joshua B. Nelson – Associate Professor, Dept. of English, The University of Oklahoma
Prof. Joshua B. Nelson, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a native Oklahoman, is an associate professor of English and an affiliated faculty member with Film & Media Studies and Native American Studies, focusing on American Indian literature and film. His book, Progressive Traditions: Identity in Cherokee Literature and Culture, looks to dismantle the pervasive assimilated/traditional dichotomy plaguing American Indian literary criticism. It explores the empowering potential of traditional, adaptive strategies and practices to address cultural and historical dilemmas.
Prof. Nelson takes a pluralist interest in tribalist, postcolonial, anarchistic, feminist, and pragmatic theoretical perspectives. His work has appeared in the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, TheOxford Handbook of Indigenous American Literature, and The Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Film Comedy. He is at work on a book on representations of the body in Indigenous film. He teaches courses on American Indian literature, literary criticism, and film. He and his wife divide their time between Norman and Park Hill, Oklahoma.
Joseph Erb – Lead Animation Artist
Joseph Lewis Erb is a computer animator,film producer, educator, language technologist and artist enrolled in the Cherokee Nation. He earned his MFA degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Erb created the first Cherokee animation in the Cherokee language, “The Beginning They Told”. He used his artistic skills to teach Muscogee Creek and Cherokee students how to animate traditional stories. Most of this work is created in the Cherokee Language. He has spent many years working on projects that will expand the use of Cherokee language in technology and the Arts. Erb teaches at University of Missouri teaching Digital Storytelling and Animation.
Jonathan Thunder – Animation Artist
Jonathan Thunder is a multi-disciplinary artist currently residing in greater Minnesota, who works in canvas painting, animation, film making and 3D projection mapping. He has attended the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM and studied Visual Effects and Motion Graphics in Minneapolis, MN. His work has been featured in many state, regional, and national exhibitions, as well as in local and international publications. Thunder has won several awards for his art/animation work on multiple projects.
At the core of my work is a story line that reflects my personal lens as a filter to the social, political, environmental and spiritual climate around me. I seek to create imagery that is surreal and imaginative by incorporating influences from the structure of my dreams, the culture around me and the direction my life is headed on any given day. I consider my work “vignettes” or short stories within a larger ongoing narrative that evolves as I evolve.
Canvas painting has been one of my chosen mediums since the beginning of my introduction to art. I believe in the simplicity of a moment captured. I like the viewer to experience a little mystery in viewing the images so they become invited to create a portion of the narrative for themselves. I prefer to work large and this allows me to fully explore the subject or concept in full detail and sometimes in real life scale. I’ve always been attracted to the way a large canvas can fill your peripheral vision while you walk through the details and dialogue.
I am also influenced by the culture of my other practice as an animation artist. I wouldn’t consider myself a cartoonist, I feel like each animation I make is a one time film that exists on its own terms. But I have been inspired by the cartoons of my childhood in the 80’s and 90’s. This influence can be seen in paintings like Supernaut and the Pollinators Return to the Skythat somewhat resembles an animated rabbit that I grew up watching on Saturday mornings. I have been able to use my animation practice to create stories with an intent to speak openly about matters important to me and experimental films represent my journey in the form of surrealism. I enjoy merging my painter self with my film maker self to create art that lives and pushes the boundaries of a space. 3D projection mapping and digital canvases are the result of this process. Paint, pixels, light and space allow me to create in a way that makes sense to me.
Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate – Composer/Music Supervisor
Praised and honored for “his ability to effectively infuse classical music with American Indian nationalism (Washington Post),” Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, born in Norman, Oklahoma, is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation. Tate is dedicated to the development of American Indian classical composition. He is a 2011 Emmy Award winner, a Governor appointed Oklahoma State Creativity Ambassador and his music was recently featured on the HBO series Westworld.
His commissioned works have been performed by the National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony and Chorus, Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Ballet, Canterbury Voices, Dale Warland Singers, Santa Fe Desert Chorale and Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival.
Tate has held Composer-in-Residence positions for Music Alive, a national residency program of the League of American Orchestras and New Music USA, the Joyce Foundation/American Composers Forum, Oklahoma City’s New View Summer Academy, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and Grand Canyon Music Festival Native American Composer Apprentice Project. Tate was the founding composition instructor for the Chickasaw Summer Arts Academy and has taught composition to American Indian high school students in Minneapolis, the Hopi, Navajo and Lummi reservations and Native students in Toronto.
Jennifer Kreisberg – Theme Song Composer/Performer
Mother, Singer, Composer, Producer, Teacher, and Activist – Jennifer (Tuscarora, North Carolina) comes from four generations of Seven Singing Sisters through the maternal line. She is known for fierce vocals, soaring range and lilting, breath-taking harmonies.
Jennifer has been singing since she was a child. When she was seventeen, she joined the critically acclaimed Native women’s Trio ULALI. Her voice perfectly wove the high strand of Ulali’s renowned harmony with incomparable skill and grace for over twenty years. Together, they created a new sound in Indian Country. Jennifer’s sharp wit and stage presence infused Ulali’s shows with strong vocals, humor and camaraderie with the audience.
Jennifer is frequently called upon to guest lecture and conduct vocal workshops at universities, schools, in Native communities and at festivals throughout the United States and Canada. She has worked in film and television and has toured with renowned musicians throughout the world.
Karl W. Schmidt – Photographer/Videographer/Location Sound
Karl Schmidt is a photographer based in Norman, Oklahoma. He graduated from the prestigious photojournalism program at Western Kentucky University in 2006. He is currently the manager of the Digital Media Lab in the Film & Media Studies program at the University of Oklahoma. Karl spends his weekends traveling to weird places in Oklahoma and his summers searching for the mythical West.
Aaron Williams – Motion Graphics Artist
Aaron Williams is an award-winning Creative Director, filmmaker, colorist, and motion graphics artist currently living in Indianapolis, Indiana. A graduate of the School of Film & Television at Loyola Marymount University, he has worked on a wide variety of projects from documentaries and narrative films to music videos and agency/commercial work. His lifelong passion (and current occupation) is leading creatives in ministry at some of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the U.S., but he still dabbles in freelance and passion projects for directors, networks, and organizations around the country.