Native built homes in a green field

Creative Fellowship


Nia Tero’s Storytelling Fellowship amplifies Indigenous creatives working on innovative projects rooted in culture, environment and story. The fellows will have access to an international stage to share community stories and perspectives that will change the dominant narrative about the critical place of Indigenous Peoples in the well-being of our planet and our collective humanity.

The Storytelling Fellowship is a yearlong program which aims to support and amplify the work of seasoned, Indigenous storytelling creatives (of multiple mediums) within Nia Tero’s priority regions (Pasifika, Amazonia, and North America) as well as globally. The Storytelling Fellows program builds capacity for Indigenous creatives as individuals and for their communities and for the visibility of Indigenous leadership in storytelling. Fellows meet six times a year for collective learning and knowledge sharing and will attend premier events for Indigenous creatives such as Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture “Fest PAC”, and a fall gathering.

NiaTero 2023 Storytelling Fellows 16x9

Introducing the 2023 Storytelling Fellows

Nia Tero is proud to announce the 2023 cohort for the Nia Tero  Storytelling Fellowship.

The Storytelling Fellowship is a yearlong program which aims to support and amplify the work of seasoned, Indigenous storytelling creatives (of multiple mediums) within Nia Tero’s priority regions (Pasifika, Amazonia, and North America) as well as globally. The Storytelling Fellows program builds capacity for Indigenous creatives as individuals and for their communities and for the visibility of Indigenous leadership in storytelling. Fellows meet six times a year for collective learning and knowledge sharing and will attend premier events for Indigenous creatives such as Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Festival of Pacific Arts and Culture “Fest PAC”, and a fall gathering.

These individuals come from a wide array of Indigenous backgrounds and creative disciplines, spanning numerous geographies and times zones. Together, they come into the Nia Tero family, bringing decades of lived experience sharing and creating stories that are pertinent to their respective communities and Indigenous identities.

The program is designed around the core values of kinship, reciprocity, and creative freedom, while providing financial support, mentorship, and built-in networking opportunities. All the Fellows were selected based on their commitment to sustaining Indigenous culture, world views, and values, as evidenced by their extraordinary vision and collective body of work.

“This Fellowship was born from a recognition that storytelling has always been a fundamental pillar for Indigenous communities and is increasingly needed as a source of light and wisdom for all of humanity,” said Tracy Rector, Nia Tero’s Managing Director of Storytelling. To this end, Nia Tero is proud to support Indigenous creatives who have dedicated themselves to storytelling in all its forms – from the cosmic to the quotidian.

2023 STF headshot Banchi Hanuse by Izzy Pullen photo 1x1

Banchi Hanuse

Nuxalk | Bella Coola, Nuxalkulmc | Film Distribution | Website

Banchi Hanuse is Nuxalk from Bella Coola, Nuxalkulmc. She directed the short docs “Cry Rock” (2010) and “Nuxalk Radio” (2020). Her feature length documentary “Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before the Sun” (2023) just had its world premiere. She is the co-founder and station manager of Nuxalk Radio whose mission is to keep the Nuxalk language alive, assert Nuxalk Nationhood and promote the stewardship and protection of Nuxalk homelands.

2023 STF headshot Brianna Fruean 1 - 1x1

Brianna Fruean

Samoan / Tokelauan | Samoa | Environmental Film

Suluafi Brianna is a Climate Activist, who has been leading projects since learning about the effects of climate change and noticing the changes to her island of Samoa as a child. At just 11, she became climate organization’s youngest country coordinator, and at 16, she became the youngest winner of the Commonwealth Youth Award. Growing up in the climate movement Brianna has been involved in all aspects of climate communications, from grassroots to government. Brianna sees storytelling as a vehicle of change. She currently works in production making socially and environmentally conscious content for Pasifika youth. She directs and writes segments as part of the tv show Fresh that airs on TV in Aotearoa, while also writing for Pasifika platform Coconet.

2023 STF headshot Diego Sarmiento - 1x1

Diego Sarmiento

Quechua | Peru | Documentary Film | Website

Diego Sarmiento's feature debut as director and producer, Green River. The Time Of The Yakurunas premiered at the Berlinale Forum 2017 and the MoMA Doc Fortnight 2018.

Mothers of The Land (2019), his second feature documentary premiered at the 69th Berlin Film Festival. In 2020, Diego won the Berlinale Talents Footprints - Mastercard Enablement Programme award, having Wim Wenders as president of the jury, with “The Seed Project” where he took the film to schools in rural communities in the Peruvian Andes, as an impact campaign. Veins of The Amazon (2021), his third feature documentary was premiered at the 64th DOK Leipzig.

Diego studied Media Production at the Universidad Catolica in Peru and a Documentary Filmmaking Master at EICTV in Cuba.

2023 STF headshot Konrad Frank 2 - 1x1

Konrad Frank

Kaagwaantaan / Tlingit | Alaska | Script Writing | Instagram

"Shak'shaani Éesh(Konrad Frank) grew up on his father’s land, of the l'eineidi, in Aangóon. He is Kaagwaantaan of Ch'aak’ Kúdi Hít. He currently resides on his great grandfather's people's land of the áak’w k(underline the k)wáan.

With the opportunity to grow up around his community and the Elders of his community, he hopes to bring more ways to share stories that reflect who they are as indigenous people. Using today's media tools such as photography and film."

2023 STF headshot Miciana Alise 1 - 1x1

Miciana Alise

Tlingit | Washington | Research & Development | Instagram

Miciana’s feature script, Nancy’s Girls, lead to 2019 and 2021 Sundance Institute Indigenous Program Fellowships. Her second feature, Fancy Dance (co-write), lead to a 2021 Sundance Screenwriter’s Fellowship, 2021 SFFilm Rainin Grant, was featured on the inaugural Indigenous List hosted by The Black List, the 2022 Wscripted Cannes Screenplay List and premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Most recently, she was a 2022 Flaherty Fellow as well as Women at Sundance | Adobe Fellow. She also serves as an elected delegate to her Tribe, the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska.

2023 STF headshot Renae Maihi 1x1

Renae Maihi

Māori / Ngapuhi & Te Arawa tribes | New Zealand | Script Writing | Instagram

Renae Maihi is an international award-winning writer and director in theatre & film whose career highlights include TIFF, Sundance and Berlinale Film Festivals.

Her debut feature film WARU which she wrote & directed in collaboration with 8 other woman filmmakers had its international premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017. WARU went on to win best screenplay at the NZ SWANZ awards, the Grand Jury Award for an Outstanding International Narrative Feature at the 34th Asia Pacific Film Festival in Los Angeles & the “Best of SIFF 2018 Audience Award” at Seattle International Film Festival.

Post pandemic Renae returned to cinema in 2022 as a writer/director with the anthology feature film We Are Still Here which opened the Sydney Film Festival 2022 and premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. We Are Still Here went on to win the Telefilm award for Best Dramatic Feature Film at the imagineNATIVE Film Festival in Toronto and in 2023 is playing in major cinema’s across Australia and New Zealand.

Committed to Indigenous Rights, as reflected by the landmark racism case she won in New Zealand (Maihi V Jones) it is her goal to make blockbuster films that reflect the many perspectives she can talk from as a Taerarua (bi) Indigenous woman and mother who aims to entertain and heal the world via storytelling.


Alexis Salee. Image by Andrew Kemmis.

Alexis Sallee

Alaska of Inupiaq and Mexican Descent | Alaska | Documentary Film | Instagram

Alexis "Alex" Anoruk Sallee grew up in Dgheyey Kaq' (Anchorage), Alaska of Inupiaq and Mexican descent. Her work is focused on sharing high quality cinematic stories from an Indigenous perspective centering Indigeneity, queerness, and female strength.

Eric Marky Terena.

Eric Marky Terena

Terena People | Brazil | Music | Instagram

Eric Marky Terena is from the Cachoeirinha Indigenous land and founding member of The Indian Media and graduated in journalism from Catholic University of Don Bosco. He specializes in ethnomedia and currently develops a work of electronic music production with Indigenous singers from various corners of Brazil sharing through audiovisual on his YouTube channel. He produces audiovisual content and music as a tool for storytelling and activism.

Ervisan Bone de Sousa

Erisvan Bone de Sousa

Guajajara People, Arariboia Indigenous Land | Maranhão, Brazil | Communications | Instagram

Erisvan is a journalist for the Guajajara people in Maranhão, Brazil. He sees communication as a fundamental instrument to multiply the force of new ideas within the Indigenous movement, to fight climate change and to record and denounce, through documentaries, short films and photographs, the great exploitation of wood in Indigenous territories. He was a contributor to the newspaper Amazônia Real.

Julian Aguon

Julian Aguon

CHamoru | Guam | Writing | Instagram

Julian Aguon is an Indigenous human rights lawyer and writer from Guam. He is the founder of Blue Ocean Law, a progressive firm that works at the intersection of Indigenous rights and environmental justice. He serves on the Global Advisory Council of Progressive International. He is also the author of No Country for Eight-Spot Butterflies (Sept. 2022).

Leya Hale

Leya Hale

Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota/Diné | Minnesota | Video Editing | Facebook

Leya Hale comes from the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota and Diné Nations. She makes her home in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her companion and children. She is a producer for Twin Cities PBS and is best known for her first feature documentary, The People’s Protectors, a Vision Maker Media grant production, and winner of the 2019 Upper Midwest Emmy Award for Outstanding Cultural Documentary. In 2020, Leya was awarded the Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellowship for Indigenous Artists and attended the 2020 Berlinale European Film Market as a NATIVe Fellow. Leya is currently working on her second feature, Bring Her Home, a documentary that highlights the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic. When not producing feature films, Leya works on a variety of short form content in efforts to create social change within the upper Midwest region.

Nina Gualinga. Photo by Alice Aedy.

Nina Gualinga

Member of the Kichwa People of Sarayaku | Ecuador | Mixed Media | Instagram

Nina Gualinga is an international advocate for the rights of women, Indigenous Peoples, and climate justice. She is of Swedish heritage and Kichwa from the Sarayaku community in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Nina has been involved in local, national, and international efforts to raise awareness and address the injustices occurring in the Amazon, particularly related to extractive industries and climate change. She is a spokeswoman for Mujeres Amazónicas, a collective of Indigenous women in the Ecuadorian Amazon defending their lives and lands, and fighting against systematic violence against Indigenous women, and is the Women Defenders Program Coordinator at Amazon Watch. Nina recently produced a short documentary in collaboration with The Guardian called “The Return” which premiered at the Sheffield Film Festival in the UK.

Shar Tuiasoa

Shar Tuiasoa

Tongan | Hawai’i | Painting and Illustration | Instagram

Shar Tuiasoa is a Pasifika illustrator from the island of O'ahu, in the town of Kailua, Hawai'i, where she was born and raised. After studying Fine Art at her local community college, she headed to California where she earned her BFA in illustration from Laguna College of Art and Design. In 2018, Shar began her illustration career selling art prints and freelancing. She has since created artwork for clients like Apple, Facebook, AT&T, Amazon, Sephora, and Old Navy and currently sells her art prints throughout the US and Japan. Shar is releasing "The debut children’s book from Punky Aloha", as an author and illustrator in May 2022 with Harper Collins. When she is not in the ocean, enjoying the vibrant culture of her home, Shar spends her time drawing anything and everything her imagination tells her to.

Ty Sanga by Shanon Makanui

Ty Sanga

Kānaka Maoli | Hawai’i | Script Development | Instagram

Ty is the Emmy award winning director of the food show Family Ingredients. In 2010, his film Stones screened at the Sundance Film Festival making him the first Native Hawaiian to premiere at the prestigious festival. Ty’s films have screened at hundreds of festivals around the world and have been broadcasted nationally and internationally. He majored in Ethnic Studies at University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa, where he gained a deeper love and understanding of Hawaiʻi’s richly diverse communities. He took that passion to the Academy for Creative Media where he was mentored by the pioneer filmmaker Merata Mita. After receiving his M.F.A from Chapman University, Ty returned home to Hawaiʻi and built decade long relationships with clients like Kamehameha Schools, PBS Hawai’i, and many others.


Portrait of Leo Cerda

Leonardo Cerda

Serena | Ecuador | Mixed Media

Leonardo Cerda is a climate activist and Indigenous rights defender focusing on efforts to build a more just and sustainable society from the Kichwa community of Serena in the Ecuadorian Amazon. He is the Founder of the HAKHU Project, an Indigenous-led organization that supports community-based initiatives that generate positive social change while protecting Indigenous territories and the planet. The HAKHU Project created alternative sources of income for Indigenous women by providing a means to sell their art to the world market. Leonardo is currently producing his own web series, Amazon Stories, to amplify the voices of Indigenous leaders and game-changers that are making a difference in protecting our planet.

Portrait of Katsitsionni Fox

Katsitsionni Fox

Akwesasne | NY | Pottery

Katsitsionni is an artist, filmmaker and educator from the Mohawk Nation Territory of Akwesasne. Her most recent film, Without a Whisper - Konnón:kwe, tells the untold story of how Indigenous women influenced the early suffragists in their fight for freedom and equality. Without a Whisper was Best Short Film Winner at Female Voices Rock Film Festival and at Red Nation Film Festival. Her debut film Oheró:kon - Under the Husk, a coming-of -age story of two Mohawk girls received the Jane Glassco award for emerging filmmaker at ImagineNATIVE. She directed a short-doc series for REMATRIATION – a Native American women's online multi-media magazine that focused on healing and empowerment of Native women.

Portrait of Jonathan Luna

Jonathan Luna

Huila | Colombia | Research & Development

Jonathan is a community organizer, farmer, cultural worker, environmental scientist, anthropologist and researcher. Jonathan is a member of the Beehive Design Collective´s Polinizaciones process and a co-founder and member of the environmental justice community arts association “Jaguos por el Territorio” based in La Jagua, Huila, Colombia. Since 2006 has participated in different processes of wildlife monitoring, ecological restoration, artistic skills building & direct actions with Indigenous and rural communities impacted by resource extraction projects. He is currently working on a multimedia project, Searching for the Marks of the Asho ́ojushi, a Wayuu led initiative seeking to promote traditional tattoo revitalization within the Wayuu peoples, including the history, traditions and knowledge that informs it today.

Portrait of Fenton Lutunatabua

Fenton Lutunatabua

Suva | Fiji | Experimental Film

Fenton is currently the Head of Regions at serving Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, and the Pacific. He has a background in journalism and over 10 years of experience in radio and TV. His passion as a storyteller, writer, photographer, and facilitator led him to creating his podcast, Beyond the Narrative. Fenton is a board member of the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network and supports cross-regional climate policy work in this role. He serves on the Pacific Climate Warriors Secretariat and supports Pacific Climate advocacy across 16 Pacific Island nations and diaspora communities in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States.

Portrait of Thomas Manglona

Thomas Mangloña II

Rota | Northern Mariana Islands | Journalism

Thomas Mangloña II is a journalist with experience in regional and local newsrooms. They previously reported on Guam and the Northern Marianas for KUAM News. They also worked on the news desk for ABC7 News in San Francisco and will be a production intern at ABC News/GMA3 this summer. Thomas is a graduate student at Stanford University pursuing a master’s degree in Journalism as a Harry S. Truman Scholar. They are an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association, where they founded the Pacific Islander Task Force to advocate for journalists and coverage across Oceania.

Portrait of Michael John McGarrell

Michael John McGarrell

Region 8 | Guyana | Photography & Community Documentation

Michael John Mc Garrell works for the Amerindian Peoples Association in Guyana and also sits on the board for the Coordinator of Indigenous Peoples organizations in the Amazon Basin (COICA). Michael believes that storytelling is a very effective way of helping others to understand the ways of his people and why they advocate for Indigenous rights to be respected and protected. Michael works with Indigenous youth in filmmaking to digitize the oral stories and teachings from the elders as a means to preserving culture for generations to come.

Portrait of Marja Bol Nango

Marja Bål Nango

Skibotin | Norway | Narrative Film

Marja Bål Nango is a film director, scriptwriter, and producer from a Sámi reindeer husbandry family in North Norway. She studied directing at Nordland College of Art and Film and producing through a special collaboration between International Sámi Film Institute and Sámi University. Her latest short film The Tongues won Best International Short Film at Palm Springs Shortfest 2020, Best Director at Rhode Island Film Festival in 2020 and Best Live Action Short at Academy-qualifying ImagineNative Film Festival 2020. Marja and co-writer Ingir Bål Nango are in development of their first feature film together – Ilove my Guođoheaddji. Marja is Merata Mita Fellow at Sundance Film Festival 2021.

Portrait of Joe Seymour

Joe Seymour

Olympia | WA | Audio Recordings & Murals

Joe (wahalatsu?) Seymour, Jr., was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Joe’s ancestral name, wahalatsu?, was given to him by his family in 2003. “wahalatsu? was the name of his great grandfather William Bagley. Joe started his artistic career by carving his first paddle for the 2003 Tribal Journey to Tulalip, and also carved his first bentwood box that year. Following the Tulalip journey, Joe then learned how to stretch and make drums. Joe has dedicated his life to creating and exploring Native art forms, including glass, photography, Salish wool weaving, prints, wood, and rawhide drums. His hope is to pass on the teachings and nurturing spirit that have been shown to him throughout his artistic career.

Portrait of Kunaq Tabone

Marjorie Kunaq Tahbone

Nome / Alaska | Bering Strait | Traditional Tattoo

Uaŋa Kunaq Sitnasuaġmiuruŋa. Kiŋigmiut ilaiyatkaa.

Kunaq is Inupiaq and Kiowa from Nome, Alaska. She is a traditional Inuit tattooist, hide tanner, seamstress, storyteller, and teacher. Currently, Kunaq is in the Indigenous Studies program at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, writing her master’s thesis on traditional Inuit tattoos and ceremony. Her artistic work focuses on revitalizing the ancient skills such as hide tanning, making traditional regalia, and tool making.


Maria Fortiz-Morse portrait

Maria Fortiz-Morse

Pipil | Global | Documentary Film

Bio to come

David Hernandez Palmar portrait

David Hernandez Palmar

Wayuu | Latin America | Media Arts

Bio to come

Princess Daazhraii Johnson portrait

Princess Daazhraii Johnson

Neet’saii Gwich’in | Boreal | Language Preservation

Bio to come

Mia Kami portrait

Mia Kami

Tongan | Pasifika | Music and Song

Bio to come

John Takave portrait

John Takave

Rotuman | Pasifika | Performing Arts

Bio to come

Kiliii Yuyan portrait

Kiliii Yuyan

Nanai/Hezhe | Arctic | Photography

Bio to come

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