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  • Writer's pictureKatherine (K’iya) Wilson

Transformational Filmmaking Program Implemented at the University of Oregon

Thanks to Elderberry Wisdom Farms, I have the honor of implementing the transformational filmmaking mentoring project for young Native American youth at the University of Oregon. The focus on Native American cultural resources and cultural arts includes health and well-being. This implementation has the NAIS (Native American Indigenous Studies) and IRES (Indigenous, Race and Ethnic Studies) Department Heads' permissions and blessings for this work.

We are meeting bi-weekly with the Women's Wellness Group at the Longhouse to foster student engagement and Health and Wellness workshop opportunities there and also with Elder Marta Clifford (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde) in Storytelling. The Native American Student Union President Megan Van Pelt's (Umatilla), the Assistant Steward of the Longhouse Jordon Herrington's (Klamath) also support this project along with UO Multicultural Counselor Norma Trefen (Siletz).

Professor Mitchell Block, the Jon Anderson Chair of Documentary Production Filmmaking in the Journalism School is proposing that Elderberry Wisdom partners with him to create a two-week intensive short documentary film camp this coming summer- which will also include under-served Indigenous youth from rural communities. Elders from as far away as Pendleton and Klamath Falls are offering to participate in our program and already have young Indigenous filmmakers interested in attending. Professor Block is also planning a Native American Film Festival at U of O to culminate the project. Professor Kevin Hatfield (UO's Honors College HC444 Decolonizing Research: Northern Paiute History Project; CURE Director, and Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Research) has also invited our UO students to present their films at his annual UO Research Symposium.


This report is from Katherine (K'iya) Wilson who lived on the Klamath Tribes Reservation in Chiloquin as a child and is now a citizen of the Wallowa Band of the Nez Perce from her heritage on her father's side. She is also blessed as a sixth generation Lane County, Oregon resident on her mother’s side. While attending the University of Oregon in 1969 she fell in with Poetic Cinema filmmakers and created a major motion picture career for herself out of that experience working on One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Animal House and Stand by Me to name a few. She was honored with a red Chief Joseph Blanket in 2007 by Chief Joseph's direct heir, Sabe Redthunder and his wife Atwice Kamiakun, and again more recently honored for her film career at the Klamath Independent Film Festival in September of 2022.

K'iya has mentored young filmmakers her whole decades-long career, recently culminating in an award-winning documentary with ten University of Oregon Cinema Studies Major students who were required to be mentored by a professional in order to graduate. The film aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting in May of 2018, winning them the highest Nielsen ratings for Prime Time in the country. Inspired by the students she mentored, she returned to the U of O in 2020 to finish the degree she put on hold for her career and graduated as a Native Grad with Sigma Tau Delta honors, garnering a Sigma Tau Delta scholarship as well as a Graham Fellowship for Grad School.

She is currently on leave after her first year in Grad school to rebuild after the Holiday Farm Wildfire, but continues to stay active in the Motion Picture Industry working on spec for proposed BBC and MTV productions in Pacific Northwest Indian Country. In February of 2022, she was elected onto the board of Elderberry Wisdom Farms while still in Grad School, and is spearheading their outreach to mentor Indigenous Students in Multimedia Storytelling. This lifelong dream of hers is finally coming true. The board and staff at Elderberry Wisdom Farm are grateful for her support and for her inspiring presence in our lives.

This Native youth film training project is funded by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Elderberry Wisdom Farm asks that when you consider your charitable donations this year, that you not only consider Elderberry Wisdom Farm but that you will also give to the Cultural Trust tax credit. This tax credit costs you nothing, and is a unique way for the state to fund cultural activities in the state into perpetuity. To qualify, you need to first make a donation to our organization, you then make a matching gift to the Oregon Cultural Trust on their website ( or via mail.

Any Oregonian who pays state income tax will get the credit back – dollar for dollar – on your tax return. It costs you nothing. A tax credit reduces what you owe the State of Oregon. It’s a much greater savings than a deduction, which only reduces the income on which you are taxed. For example, if it appears you owe $200 in Oregon taxes but you made a $100 contribution to the Cultural Trust by Dec. 31 of that tax year, your final tax bill will only be $100. See:

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