About Us

The Cante Sica Foundation’s mission is to create opportunities for healing, understanding and reconciliation around the legacy of the Native American boarding school system, the U.S. Government’s policy of forced assimilation of indigenous peoples between 1879 and 1975.

The Foundation works towards this mission through the implementation of the “Boarding School Stories” project, which documents, in visual histories, the experiences of Native American elders who attended boarding schools.

The Foundation pursues the following three objectives:

  1. Train young Native Americans to conduct visual history interviews with boarding school survivors and alumni.
  2. Establish a visual history archive of the interviews for posterity, to be used by scholars, educators and Native communities.
  3. Create an interactive new media curriculum that educates high school and college students about the legacy of Native American boarding schools.

The Cante Sica Foundation is a 501c3 non-profit educational organization generously funded by the Sri Tellander Foundation, the Kalliopeia Foundation, VisionMaker Media, and Cal Humanities.


Our Team


Jonathan Skurnik

Founder and Executive Director

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Jonathan produces award–winning documentaries for broadcast and educational distribution. His films tell the stories of people and communities struggling to overcome oppression to reach their highest potentials. In addition to his documentary work, Jonathan founded the Workfare Media Initiative, The Youth and Gender Media Project and The Cante Sica Foundation, three foundation-funded grassroots outreach and engagement projects that provide transformational educational experiences through facilitated screenings and discussions and immersive digital resources on the web. Jonathan also directs short fiction films, is an adjunct professor of film at local universities and works as a visual artist.


Brían Wescott (Athabascan/Yup’ik)

Field Director

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Brían was born and raised in Alaska, where he heard harrowing stories about his mother barely evading BIA boarding school. He recently Executive Produced “American Indian Actors” for the SAG President’s National Task Force for American Indians, a committee for which he is co-vice-chair. He also joined the WGA with a proposed four-hour series on modern Native history with a trickster host, to be directed by Chris Eyre.

He co-produced and appears in “Christmas in the Clouds,” the first feature comedy set in Indian country, and he also co-produced the award-winning short “Ancestor Eyes” directed by Kalani Queypo and starring Tantoo Cardinal. Brian has a B.A. From Harvard University and a Ph.D. In American Studies from Yale University.


DeLanna Studi (Cherokee)

Assistant Field Director

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As an advocate and youth mentor, DeLanna has worked with the National Conference of Community and Justice (NCCJ), Encompass, and the grassroots organization ALLARM (Alliance Against Racial Mascots. DeLanna volunteered at NCCJ’s Brotherhood/ Sisterhood Camp, a social justice camp that strives to develop a multi-cultural, interracial, inter-religious community through dialogue.

She has graduated from the Shakespeare Festival’s Los Angeles Youth Arts Professional Program where she was placed at City At Peace working with 50 youth from diverse backgrounds to create a musical. Her greatest achievement is being a mentor to Native youth for the program Young Native Playwrights sponsored by Native Voices at the Autry. She has been an advocate for the “Challenge to Say No” program for the Yakima reservation in White Swan, WA. She has also served as the acting mentor for the American Indian Film Festival’s Tribal Touring Program touring to many reservations on the west coast. Most recently, she has been working with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction in their American Indian Summer Institute Teaching Program and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s Audience Development Program and in their Education office. DeLanna is the current chair of the SAG-AFTRA National Committee for Native Americans.


Kathy Peltier (Dinè, Lakota and Turtle Moutain Ojibwa)

Founder and Executive Director

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Kathy grew up speaking Dinè on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. Both her parents went to boarding school when they were little, her dad taken involuntarily (he was almost beaten for speaking his Native tongue) and her mom ran away from home on purpose to attend boarding school in the later years when the harsh punishment was gone.

Kathy has always had an interest of what life was like in the times when kids were forced into boarding schools. In the latter part of 2001, after 9/11, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream career in the film industry and joined the documentary Navajo Code Talkers. Being a still photographer on this documentary enlightened her and here she is, part of another team to document our elders about their experience in boarding school life.


Jes Abeita (Isleta/Laguna Pueblos)

Visual Historian

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Jes is a multi-media journalist. Her previous work includes the International Reporting Center’s Pain Project, Native America Calling, the Vancouver Sun and other publications in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Abeita holds a B.A. in Native American Studies from the University of New Mexico.


Sedda Antekelian

Curriculum Writer

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Sedda Antekelian is born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She receieved her B.A. in both History and Humanities with an emphasis in Art History. She continued to earn her MAT at the University of California, Irvine.

She has over three years of teaching experience working at a tutoring center, museum, and middle school. Sedda is passionate about history and art and enjoys making them both come alive for students.


Jennifer Rice

Assistant Curriculum Writer

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Jen holds a B.A. in History from Barnard College and is currently getting her Masters in Public Policy at the University of Texas, Austin.


Mike Knowlton

Curriculum Designer

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A digital veteran of 20 years, Mike has always pushed the boundaries of storytelling and technology. He is a recognized leader in the global Transmedia community and is the Co-Founder of the non-profit, immersive storytelling community StoryCode. His work at StoryCode has created a vibrant cross-discipline community of innovative creators.

StoryCode programs immersive media case study presentations, Transmedia education workshops, and Story Hackathons. He led in the production of the first-ever Story Hackathon, an event that was covered by Forbes, The Washington Post, and PBS.


Mark Harris

Curriculum Designer

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As a technologist with 15 years experience, Mark specializes in high volume, web-based ecosystems with a focus on performance and scalability. Mark is currently focused on cloud-based architectures which allow for a system to grow with the success of the organization.

Mark was a creative technologist on Lance Weiler's Pandemic 1.0 at the Sundance Film Festival, and regularly speaks on the intersection of story and technology. He writes software for gameplay, storytelling, and Transmedia. He was a mentor at the first StoryCode StoryHack and was the software architect on Hide & Seek's James Bond Skyfall game "Are You Fit to Serve".

As a writer/director, Mark is an alumnus of the IFP Narrative Lab. Mark’s Transmedia project, THE LOST CHILDREN had its New York City Premiere at The Film Society of Lincoln Center, with a combined feature film and live immersive experience. Mark's short films have been featured on the Sy-Fy Channel and Slamdance's Anarchy online film competition.

Mark is currently developing his interactive/immersive play, CURRENT:GOOD with Epic Theater Ensemble.


K. Tsianina Lomawaima (Muskogee/Creek)


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Tsianina is a Professor and Director of the American Indian Studies at the University of Arizona. Professor Lomawaima earned her graduate degrees (M.A. and Ph.D.) in anthropology from Stanford University. In 1988, she was hired as an Assistant Professor in the Anthropology Dept./American Indian Studies Center at University of Washington, Seattle, where she taught for six years and was tenured.

Tsianina moved to University of Arizona, American Indian Studies Program in 1994 and was appointed Head in 2005. Her research on the experiences of American Indian alumni of a federal off-reservation boarding school is rooted in the experiences of her father Curtis, who was raised from age seven at Chilocco Indian Agricultural School in Oklahoma. Interviews with her father and sixty of his contemporaries, along with information from federal policy and archives, appear in They Called it Prairie Light: The Story of Chilocco Indian School (1994, University of Nebraska Press), winner of the 1993 North American Indian Prose Award, and the American Educational Association’s 1995 Critics’ Choice Award.


Andrea Smith (Cherokee)


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Andrea is a longtime anti-violence and Native American activist and scholar. She is the co-founder of the Boarding School Healing Project and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, a national grassroots organization that utilizes direct action and critical dialogue. Smith has published widely on issues of violence against women of color and is one of the nation’s leading experts on the topic, as well as a highly-sought after speaker.

Smith currently teaches in media and cultural studies at the University of California, Riverside. In addition to Conquest: Sexual Violence and American Indian Genocide, Smith authored Native Americans and The Christian Right: The Gendered Politics of Unlikely Alliances and helped edit INCITE!’s two anthologies, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex and Color Of Violence. She has also contributed to South End Press's two forthcoming anthologies, The Revolution Starts at Home, and Sovereign Acts.


Randy Vasquez

Board Member

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Randy grew up on the beaches of southern California and in the mountains of North Carolina. He has been an actor since 1983. His first documentary, made in 1996 was Concert of the South, which contrasted the original Zapatista movement during the Mexican Revolution with the current one in Chiapas.

Testimony: The Maria Guardado Story (2001) was his first feature documentary that traces the journey of a Salvadoran political activist from being kidnapped and tortured by death squads in 1980 to her immigrating to the US in 1983. His two most recent PBS documentaries, co-produced with Jonathan Skurnik, are The Thick Dark Fog and Badger Creek.


Walter Littlemoon (Lakota and Northern Cheyenne)

Board Member

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Walter, born in 1942, was raised in the community of Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. His father was a full blood Lakota and his mother a Northern Cheyenne. For many years he sought solutions to the cross-generational defeat and depression ensuing from historical policies.

Whether bringing in supplies and encouragement through the Tiyospaye Crisis Center which he founded, offering drug and alcohol abuse counseling, speaking cross-country, or serving as Wounded Knee District president, Walter tried to help raise his people’s self-esteem. Now exploring and sharing his personal recovery is one more, and perhaps the greatest, step in that effort. In his memoir They Called Me Uncivilized, and the documentary (The Thick Dark Fog) that has been based on it, he describes the impact of government boarding schools. He shares the unburdening relief it gives to have a name for the hopeless “thick, dark fog” that haunted him for over sixty years – Complex Post Traumatic Stress. Littlemoon’s memoir and the documentary have become part of the curriculum at many colleges and universities not only in the United States but also around the world. It is said that he brings a flesh and blood perspective to the abstractions that are federal policies and that his voice gives life to academic texts. The unpretentious style of his memoir has been compared to: Hiroshima by John Hersey, Night by Elie Wiesel and The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass for packing the same wallop as those brief books. His is a universal message that speaks not only of pain and suffering but more importantly of the hope to live a contented life.


Jane Ridgway

Board Member

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Jane Ridgway is a Connecticut Yankee from the town of Greenwich, CT. She started her adult years as a cytologist, viewing pathology within people under a microscope. As she began raising her family, Ridgway found her interest and curiosity turned more toward the psychology of people than their physical pathology.

In January 1984, Jane’s attention was drawn to the devastating living conditions on the Pine Ridge reservation through a series of newspaper articles in her local paper, The Greenwich Time. She spent months educating herself through books and conversations with various Native Americans. All the while, searching for an avenue where she could assist, based on the strong belief that healing had to come from within the people themselves. Through that search, she finally found Walter Littlemoon and, in October 1985, she traveled to Wounded Knee to experience the conditions and the people living there first hand. Littlemoon and Ridgway formed a deep and abiding friendship over the following years, based on their mutual focus and concern to improve life for those forgotten people on the reservation. Jane assisted in writing Walter’s memoir They Called Me Uncivilized. They have been called resident activists, cultural facilitators, authors, counselors and senior consultants from the community of Wounded Knee.


David Burton

Board Member

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David's bio coming soon.

The Cante Sica Foundation is a 501c3 foundation whose purpose is to implement the Boarding School Stories visual history project. The Cante Sica Foundation also develops content and shares resources for related artistic projects including museum exhibitions, documentary films, books, and theater projects. This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Vision Maker Media, and the Kalliopeia Foundation.

Contact us at info@cantesica.org