Tribal Partnerships Initiative

Funding for Projects with Montana Tribal Nations

Tribal Partnerships Initiative (TPI) blends together the power of direct and on-the-ground humanities work in tribal communities with the support and infrastructure of Humanities Montana.

The goal of TPI is to support programs that explore Montana Tribal Nation’s history and culture as well as programming developed specifically by native communities that addresses their interests and needs.

Current Partner Projects

Third Annual Metchif Heritage Keepers Métis Music and Art Festival

The Métis people of Canada & the United States are the descendants of First Nations women and fur trade workers of European ancestry (French, Scottish, English and Irish Canadians). The annual Montana Métis Music and Art Festival celebrates the history, music, food, language, art and culture of the Métis who live in Montana or share descendants. It features workshops by published writers and award winning speakers, as well as historical presentations and cooking demonstrations by Métis elders. Organized by the Mitchif Heritage Keepers, the festival takes place every summer in Choteau, Montana.

This video was created for the Montana Office of Public Instruction.


The Séliš-Ql̓ispé Culture Committee, a department of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, created the Séliš-Ql̓ispé Ethnogeography Project. The SQEP is centered around the documentation and understanding of traditional Salish-language place-names, as well as the whole cultural and historical relationship with the land—past, present, and future—of the Séliš (Salish or “Flathead”) and Ql̓ispé (Kalispel or Pend d’Oreille) people. The partnership has enabled them to identify and create historical markers for additional indigenous place names. They have more than tripled the number of documented Salish place-names, which now exceeds 1,000 across the aboriginal territories. Most importantly, this project is about not only cultural history, but also cultural continuance.

Summer Assiniboine Language Program

Each summer, Fort Peck Community College hosts an eight week Summer Language Program for Assiniboine and Sioux languages for learners ages 6-18. Students study four to six hours per day, four days a week. The college has also developed a two-year language teaching certificate to increase the number of trained teachers in the tribal languages.  Nine participants are scheduled to graduate in the Spring of 2019 from the Native Language Instructor (N.L.I.) program. Michael Turcotte, a FPCC faculty member, shares that the number of native speakers is declining at an alarming rate and so the summer institute is more important than ever. They are also continuing their work on creating a language acquisition website, which will include an audio dictionary and other resources that aren’t available to Blackfoot language learners.

Aasaisstto Language Society

Founded by William Big Bull, Robert Hall, and Sterling Holy White Mountain, the Aasaisstto Language Society is an incorporated 501c3 that seeks to revitalize Blackfeet language in Browning and in Blackfeet communities everywhere. Because many language learners are learning off-reservation, the organization’s two main projects are a website and a book that can be distributed or accessed anywhere. Both employ techniques Hall studied as a student of linguistics.

Fort Belknap Mid-Winter Fair

Each year the Gros Ventre, Assiniboine, and Little Shell nations come together to celebrate their respective cultures during the winter months. The Fort Belknap Mid-Winter Fair is committed to introducing young members of the nations to their peoples’ musical and artistic expressions. The events are live and interactive, and fair performers and presenters also visit reservation schools . “There is so much history we don’t want to lose,” said lead organizer Caroline Yellow Robe.