User Login Menu

News Detail | News | Fort Lewis College | Durango, Colorado

Fort Lewis College News/News Detail
Get the latest Fort Lewis College news.

Inaugural Tribal Water Media fellows explore connections between water, Native communities

Inaugural Tribal Water Media fellows explore connections between water, Native communities

DURANGO, Colorado—A short film depicting Water as a living being. A music video. A documentary about beavers and another about an Indigenous farmer gifting heirloom seed to the Old Fort Farming Training Program at Fort Lewis College. 

These were among eight multimedia projects presented at this year’s inaugural showcase of the Tribal Water Media Fellowship, which explores the connections between Indigenous cultures and water. More than 100 people attended the FLC’s Student Union Ballroom event to check out the podcasts, documentaries, oral histories, and poems.  

“These projects are the product of a lot of hard work by all 12 fellows and examples of not only their tremendous creativity but also their tremendous passion,” said Colten Ashley, a filmmaker and one of the program’s coordinators. He is also KSUT’s Tribal Media Center coordinator.  

Funded by the Walton Family Foundation, the Tribal Water Media Fellowship is a collaboration between Fort Lewis College, KSUT, and Rocky Mountain PBS. It allows fellows to research, create, and present multimedia projects on water, water issues, and desert communities.  

While introducing the projects, fellow August Mrakuzics said he was impressed by the variety of expertise among mentors —including seasoned journalists, water rights activities, and lawyers—and the various projects. 

Tribal Water Media fellows explored the connections between Indigenous communities and water issues, creating a multimedia project. One of the projects included "A Reporter's Handbook," by Juliya Valdez.

“Everyone has done such amazing work. Many of us are stepping outside our comfort zones and doing something we’ve never done before, using video, multimedia projects, documentary film, and audio projects,” he said. "We have people from all walks and education, and we took a swing at putting together some amazing things.” 


This year’s inaugural fellows and their projects included:  

  • Clara Bertany - "Coming Home: A Story of Seeds" (short video documentary) 
  • Kaitlyn Lowley [Dine] - "Flowing Forward" (audio documentary) 
  • Klara Goldman - "Beaver Pod" (podcast documentary) 
  • Jacy Charley, Cierra Charley [Dine] - "Navajo Nation Water Rights" (audio documentary) 
  • Juliya Valdez [Southern Ute] - "Tribal Water Media Fellowship: A Reporter's Notebook" (multimedia reporter's notebook) 
  • Charlotte Smart - "Tó" (music video) 
  • August J Mrakuzic - "African Tribal Water: A Maasai Angel" (audio documentary) 
  • Brooke Laughter [Dine] - "They Call Me Water" (short video art)  
  • Britney Dougi [Dine] 
  • Lucero Dayzie [Dine] 
  • Oliver Patrick 

Training the next generation of storytellers 

Tribal Water Fellows were surprised with handmade beaded medallions handcrafted by traditional Ute beader and artist Kree Lopez.

Earlier this year, the fellows participated in a 10-day intensive program that included a four-day trip down the San Juan River led by Fort Lewis on the Water (FLOW), followed by a series of workshops on topics such as media preparation, production, cultural studies, water issues, science, and policy. 

The fellows were paired with mentors to help them develop an independent project that included conceiving, researching, and producing a media project centered on water. The project also allowed fellows to create multimedia projects and build relationships with experts in their field, giving them space to learn about the interconnections of water and Indigenous cultures.  

Fellows received a $1,000 stipend, equipment access, and workshops from the KSUT Tribal Media Center. 

“Through this fellowship, we're doing our part to train the next Indigenous media professionals collectively,” Graham said. “In 10, 20 more years, these fellows will be doing incredible things, well known in their roam of filmmakers, or working for NPR... being professional storytellers because they got their start through this project,” Graham added. "I want people to know how innovative and exciting this project really is.”  

Applications for the 2024 Tribal Water Media Fellowship are now open. To apply, complete the application online. For more information, visit the Tribal Water Media Fellowship webpage.  

In addition to the Walton Family Foundation, the fellowship received support from the Southwestern Water Conservation District, the Colorado Plateau Foundation and SWCA.

Back To Top