February 21, 2023
Native Lens Media Fellows 2023

Native Lens Media Fellowship gears up for film training program

Four Corners Public Radio | By Colten Ashley

KSUT partners with Rocky Mountain PBS, Vision Maker Media, and the Durango Independent Film Festival to present the first Native Lens Media Fellowship in Durango, Colo., Feb. 26 - Mar. 4, 2023.

The Native Lens Media Fellowship is the first training program for young Native American adults interested in filmland. The initiative offers hands-on experience in filmmaking, public media distribution, networking, and film financing through non-profits such as Vision Maker Media.

During the weeklong fellowship, participants will create two projects, from planning to delivery. They will premiere at the Durango Independent Film Festival as part of a showcase of Native Lens stories.

The showcase is free on Saturday, Mar. 4, at the Durango Arts Center at 5 p.m

A public reception for the Native Lens Fellowship participants and other Durango Independent Film Festival filmmakers will take place at Sorrel Sky Gallery from 3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Saturday Mar. 4, Durango Arts Center 802 E 2nd Avenue

Native Lens Media Fellowship Shorts
Two Films created by

  • Jaycherie Little
  • Israel Duran
  • Shannon Spencer
  • Paige Brown
  • Albert Haskie
  • Kimey Begaye
  • Laelah Kizzia
  • Leland Collins Jr.
  • Leander Collins

Fellowship Instructor

Brooke Pepion Swaney

Native Lens Showcase Shorts

Girl in a jacket

Reclaiming food sovereignty in the Four Corners

By Amber Labahe
Indigenous Food Sovereignty is a reclamation of Native American identity that incorporates traditional foods into meals to promote better health, food security and cultural reconnection.

Girl in a jacket

11-year-old reflects on pandemic, virtual school, and love for her Pueblo

By Andreita Gonzales
At age 11, Gonzales makes her directorial debut with Native Lens. She lets her age be a driving factor to learn as much as she can about the world around her and beyond. She wanted to show everyone that no matter what age you are, you can accomplish great goals, and it can be “pretty fun” too.

Girl in a jacket

Healing Through Peyote

By Amber Labahe
Throughout the past several decades, the public has attached a negative connotation to peyote, most commonly identifying it as a drug. Calling this living entity — a cacti with hallucinogenic properties — a drug disrespects its purpose, and creates a barrier to those who use peyote for ceremonial purposes.

Girl in a jacket

All of This is Native Land

By Trennie Collins
Much debate occurred throughout 2020 surrounding a cartoonish statue known as “The Chief” in downtown Durango. Tall enough to be visible from several blocks around, this depiction of a Native American is owned by a gallery specializing in Native American art. The gallery inherited the statue from a Native American themed diner that closed in 1981.

Girl in a jacket

R.E.M. Burn

By The Bawaadan Collective
This piece quickly became more than acknowledging the distinction between appropriation and re-contextualization, a concept that becomes more and more indistinguishable in an age of commodification.

Girl in a jacket

Danza Azteca reconnects cultures across borders

By Junior Robinson
Junior Robinson is a member of Grupo Xochiti, a traditional Azteca/Mexica Danza dance group. Robinson's NATIVE LENS film features another Azteca dance group, Grupo Tlaloc Danza Azteca based out of Denver, Colorado.

Girl in a jacket

Running Angel

By Joe Kinneen
Student filmmaker Joe Kinneen produced this story about Fort Lewis College cross country runner Angel Curley. Curley talks about her family heritage, how she got involved in running, and how she’s been impacted by Covid-19. Kinneen is an Alaskan Native and Curley hails from the Navajo Nation in Arizona.

Girl in a jacket

Advocating for Indigenous internet and spectrum sovereignty

By Darrah Blackwater
Darrah created this video while she was driving across the Navajo Nation from Arizona back to Farmington, New Mexico to help her parents with a move. As she highlights within her video, she really did have to stop on the side of road, where she could find a patch of cellphone service, to complete an interview for her first job with a law firm.

About Native Lens
Native Lens is a collaboration between Rocky Mountain PBS, KSUT, and the Colorado Health Foundation to amplify Native American voices during the pandemic. The initial concept allowed for the evolution of a program that now seeks to empower Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and First Nations people - through grassroots, first-person, narratives. This has fostered the production and distribution of dozens of stories from individuals since 2020, which continue to be submitted and finalized for publication. The success of this program, combined with the launch of the Tribal Media Center in Ignacio, has allowed Native Lens to expand its mission by offering hands-on media trainings, such as the Native Lens Fellowship, and other educational opportunities in the Four Corners and beyond.