Cultivating Curiosity and Conversation
Across the Urban Rural Divide
Reframing Rural, Episode 3: Unearthing the Indigenous Narrative in Northeast Montana
Eddie Hentges grew up and later taught history on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation in Northeast Montana. A descendant of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, he discusses the politics behind looking Native, the history of the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes and how he approaches teaching U.S. high school history through a multicultural and decolonial lens.
Reframing Rural is an initiative dedicated to sharing stories directly from those living in geographically remote and sparsely populated regions through podcast episodes, and photographs. By elevating unexplored stories and everyday wisdom directly from rural residents, the initiative adds color and complexity to the larger cultural narrative while celebrating culture, preserving history and cultivating empathy.
Telling stories of people and places not fully represented in the media or pop culture is at the heart of Reframing Rural's mission. TedGlobal speaker and writer Chimamanda Adichie recognizes this phenomenon as the “danger of a single story.” Single stories, or stereotypes of rural people in the news leads to their dehumanization, further wedging the divide between city and country, republican and democrat, and myriad binaries that are uncreative and damaging.
For those with a rural background, Reframing Rural provides a place where people’s experiences can be validated. For those generationally removed from their rural roots, the initiative inspires curiosity in rural Americans whose stories cannot be told through election maps or newspaper headlines.
Rewriting the Narrative on Rural America
Reframing Rural founder, Megan Torgerson recently earned an MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University! Watch her thesis presentation Reframing Rural: Rewriting the Narrative on Rural America.
Note from the Founder
Imagine you’re holding a camera and adjusting its focus. At first you make the flower in front of you the focal point. Then you bring the hills in the background into focus, guiding the viewer’s eye to the landscape just beyond the flower. Reframing Rural is a new initiative that seeks to refocus or reframe rural issues through storytelling in a way that paints a fuller picture of our collective story.
My name is Megan Torgerson and no matter where I live I will always be from rural America. It’s been 10 years since I left my family’s farm and ranch in Northeastern Montana, but the prairie has never left me. I’ve lived in over five towns and cities from Alaska to North Carolina and witnessed stigmas and misinterpretations of small towns spread as the urban rural divide is widened by politics and the media. It seems to me that people have become less interested in getting to know one another and more concerned with labeling the "other." I want to change that.
Stories cultivate empathy and I believe they have the power to connect us all. I’m excited to have you along on this journey and invite you to “put yourself in someone else’s boots,” as you experience stories of hope and resilience from the wide and wild Northern Great Plains.
Season 1: Coming Home
Reframing Rural's first season, Coming Home, is set in an agricultural community in Northeastern Montana, that is the ancestral home of the Sioux-speaking Assiniboines peoples. Here tourism is limited to pheasant hunting and the population has increased only slightly in the last decade due to the neighboring Bakken oil formation. Many who grew up in this part of the state are aging and moving to warmer climates, or leaving for bigger towns offering more opportunity, leaving the work of 1,677 square miles of mostly farm land to a small number of farmers. Coming Home features stories of a well-traveled farmer, musician and playwright, retired country school teacher, taxidermist and preacher, the mother of school-aged children employed in the oil and gas industry and a high school teacher, teaching American history through an Indigenous lens. In addition to sharing rural stories with a larger audience, Megan Torgerson launched Coming Home to offer those living in Sheridan County a platform to share their unique experiences. Now more than ever, their stories need to be part of the American Zeitgeist.
In order to reframe rural issues, we must lay to rest sweeping generalizations of rural America being a place lacking culture, cultural sensitivity, education and economic opportunity. Reframing Rural does this by engaging the oral story tradition and touring pop-up, audio-visual exhibits featuring listening stations, photos of the storytellers and butcher paper upon which audiences can share their stories of home.
It takes a community to tell stories and we want you to be a part of ours.
Stay in touch!
reframingrural (at) gmail.com
If you would like to connect Reframing Rural to resources, make a one time donation to the project, or help spread the word, please contact Megan Torgerson at reframingrural (at) gmail.com for more information. If you would like to become a supporter through Patreon, visit www.patreon.com/reframingrural.