It has not only been a pleasure to work alongside David as a co-teacher, but also to observe his work with the students. He empowers students on the Reservation in a unique way and gives them ownership of their communities through photography and reflection. During an intensive summer course, we combined photography with writing to prompt students to think critically of their surroundings and themselves. His process allows students to engage with hands-on activities that give them true knowledge of what they're doing. David displays tremendous patience with the individuals that he works with and ensures understanding before moving on to the next step of the learning process. The photographic process instills a sense of individual pride in the products students create.
- Alexander Herlich, Salish Kootenai College Upward Bound, Pablo, Montana

We Dare Tell

"We Dare Tell" is an intergenerational interviewing project serving students at Two Eagle River School on the Flathead Indian Reservation. The project is sponsored by A VOICE and led by writer Jennifer Finley and photographer David J. Spear.

We Dare Tell is a contemporary form of the oral storytelling tradition, reviving the idea of the Native American storytelling circle in which the storytellers share their lives, their dreams, their experiences and/or their hardships. We Dare Tell allows students to be directly connected to the storytelling process through interactive dialog with the storyteller/interviewee, thereby building and maintaining student interest.

Through storytelling and portrait study instruction, interviewing practice and discussion, We Dare Tell seeks to teach participating students to explore and document their community, culture and history, thereby broadening interest and participation in their surroundings and communities, building self-esteem and encouraging creative expression through the arts and humanities. An important cultural aspect of this project is that Native American elders are sharing their stories with their youth and in doing so are maintaining a traditional and personal tie between generations. Those who experience the resulting stories of this project, whether they are Native American or not, can share in that cultural tie. Through these interviews, students help to document and accurately depict their people and their origins.

The We Dare Tell project format not only teaches students the practical skills of interviewing and photographing but in addition gives them an appreciation for the importance of storytelling and photo documentation. The project also teaches them respect and tolerance of those who they may view as different. Because the project reaches people of different generations it is especially appealing to the community. To date some thirty community members have participated and the community has been deeply moved by these profiles and stories.