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 a global stage to amplify Indigenous stories that will change the global 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 Boreal) 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.

Applications for the 2022 cohort of the Storytelling Fellowship are now closed.

Introducing the 2021 Storytelling Fellows

Nia Tero is proud to announce the 2021 cohort for the Nia Tero  Storytelling Fellowship.

These nine individuals come from a wide array of Indigenous backgrounds and creative disciplines, spanning numerous geographies and 14 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. 

Portrait of Leo Cerda

Leonardo Cerda

Serena, Ecuador

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

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

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

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

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 Marja Bol Nango

Marja Bål Nango

Skibotin, Norway

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

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

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.

2020 Storytelling Fellows

Maria Morse-Ortiz (Pipil) – Documentary Film - Global
David Hernandez Palmar (Wayuu) – Media Arts – Latin America
Princess Daazhraii Johnson (Neet’saii Gwich’in) – Language Preservation – Boreal
Mia Kami (Tongan) – Music and Song – Pasifika
John Takave (Rotuman) – Performing Arts – Pasifika
Kiliii Yuyan (Nanai/Hezhe) – Photography – Arctic

Related stories from Fellowships

Delve into highlights and stories from our Fellowships.

All Fellowship Stories

Portrait of a young woman, Mia Kami, in a dress smiles with her hand clasped in front of her


Storytelling Fellow - Mia Kami

Portrait of a man, Killii Yuyuan, dressed in camouflage with a large tripod camera scope on his shoulder


Storytelling Fellow - Kiliii Yuyan

A man and woman plan traditional drum instruments on stage


Storytelling Fellow - John Taukave