Private Project

MontTELLs: Braiding Indian Education with Academic Literacy Skills in English

The documentary illustrates the benefits of promoting English academic literacy skills to support content mastery, while in tandem sustaining heritage language teaching and promoting positive cultural identity among Native American teachers.

  • Kael Van Buskirk
  • Lucia Ricciardelli
    Portrait of a Pawnee Cree Moccasin Maker
  • Jioanna Carjuzaa
  • Crow and Chippewa-Cree tribal members
    Key Cast
  • Kayce Williams
    Tech Support
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Runtime:
    30 minutes 15 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 1, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    5,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
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Director Biography - Kael Van Buskirk, Lucia Ricciardelli

Kael Van Buskirk is a recent BFA graduate from the School of Film and Photography at Montana State University. He assisted in directing the filming of the MontTELLs documentary, oversaw post-production, and coordinated with the participants to ensure accurate representation. Kael is collaborating with Drs. Jioanna Carjuzaa and Lucia Ricciardelli on the production of a short documentary on the Salish Master Apprentice Program methodology.

Dr. Lucia Ricciardelli is an Associate Professor at Montana State University, where she teaches film studies and photography theory. Over the last two decades, Ricciardelli’s research has focused on the use of documentary filmmaking as an act of living resistance and sociopolitical action, resulting in publications, conference presentations, and the production of documentary films that seek to raise awareness about cultural and racial diversity. Particularly noteworthy is Ricciardelli’s cross-cultural partnership with Montana Indigenous tribes, which has led to the production of documentary films for the revitalization, preservation and transmission of Native American oral stories, languages, and cultures, contributing to the Native American cause for self-determination. Over the past three years, Dr. Jioanna Carjuzaa and Ricciardelli have collaborated on the production of three documentary films for the revitalization and preservation of indigenous languages in Montana. Ricciardelli co-directed the MontTELLs documentary with Kael Van Buskirk, an MSU BFA graduate, also serving as a camera person and sound recordist.

Dr. Jioanna Carjuzaa is a Professor and the Executive Director of the Center for Bilingual and Multicultural Education at Montana State University (MSU). Carjuzaa served as the Principal Investigator on the Montana Teachers of English Language Learners (MontTELLs) grant project and as the producer for the MontTELLs documentary. For this film, she connected with her former students and friends in Indian country to highlight the importance of blending the goals of Indian Education for all, heritage language preservation, and academic literacy in English to promote student achievement. Carjuzaa enjoyed collaborating with the amazing film crew, MontTELLs team members, and students, staff, faculty, and community members of the Crow and Rocky Boy Reservations. The documentary was filmed during the COVID pandemic at Arrow Creek Elementary and Plenty Coups High School in the Pryor Public Schools, and Box Elder K-12 School District, as well as on MSU’s campus.

Kayce Williams is part of the Department of Agricultural and Technology Education at Montana State University. He has served as the Technology Coach for the MontTELLs grant project providing technical training and support. During the filming of the documentary, Williams assisted with technical support, transportation, and interviews.

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Director Statement

This short documentary was created with the support of a small film production team composed of Crow, Chippewa-Cree community members, and non-Native film experts. While Jioanna, Kael and I may be the ones who are the storytellers, the knowledge that we present does not belong to us or even to the amalgamation of the film production team’s participants. The knowledge is part of the relationships among us and cannot be owned.