Montana Conversations: Sqelixʷ ‘Salish’ Storytelling with Aspen and Cameron Decker
Sqelixʷ ‘Salish’ Storytelling incorporates Salish Language, Plains Indian Sign Language, and storytelling to discuss Salish culture, identity, and values. This presentation teaches Indigenous understandings about native storytelling, and Indigenous connection with the land. Aspen and Cameron Decker focus on Coyote stories to teach about Salish place names/Montana geography, art, and the Salish seasonal round. Coyote stories are told throughout the winter months. In the warmer months, this program focuses on Salish anthologies.
During the course of Sqelixʷ ‘Salish’ Storytelling, Aspen and Cameron Decker speak about storytelling, the life lessons that they teach, and Indigenous geographical knowledge of Montana and Salish aboriginal territory. This presentation also introduces the culture behind oral traditions and Salish seasonal protocols. Together both speakers incorporate and speak Salish Language and Plains Sign Language associated with the stories with participants, during their program.
Funding for the Montana Conversations program is provided by Humanities Montana through grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Montana’s Cultural Trust, and private donations.
Aspen Decker is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (Tatay̓áqn, Qlis:p̓é & Ksanka) and a speaker of her tribal language, Nsélišcn ‘Salish language’. She graduated with a master’s degree in linguistics from the University of Montana and earned a bachelor’s degree in Tribal Historic Preservation from Salish Kootenai College. She has a Montana Class 7 Native American Language and Culture Educator License and has taught Salish for many years. Her passion for Salish language began as a child, learning from her elders, primarily, Patlik Pierre. Who taught her about the importance of perpetuating Salish language and culture. Raising her children in the language as first language Salish speakers has been one of the ways that she honors their teachings.
Cameron Decker is Diné, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, and a descendant of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes. He served as a faculty member at Salish Kootenai College in the Fine Arts department, serving as program Chair of the department for 4 years. Cameron recently worked at the Missoula Art Museum as an Educator and Outreach Coordinator. He holds a Masters in Arts M.A. in Fine Arts in Integrated Arts in Education and is interested in ways to support our Montana education system with authentic, appropriate, and engaging lessons that teach about Indigenous values, contributions and innovations. He and his partner Aspen have been a part of many annual teacher trainings and have been delivering presentations for the CSKT Tribal Education Department for the past 5 years. Together they have over 20 years combined experience in Tribal education.