Awesome Foundation Grant Award Winner: Two Feathers LLC

Written by: Fargo Inc

By Brandi Malarkey

In 2019 the Moorhead City Council voted to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Fast forward five years and 2023 saw the Minnesota Legislature replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a state-recognized holiday each second Monday in October. History is being created new each day, not by idealized historical figures, but by everyday people. Among them, 17-year-old Moorhead High School student, DJ Smith, who at age 12, was one of the presenters to the Moorhead City Council advocating in support of the change.

Since that time, DJ has continued to take note of the discrepancy between the educational information he has been learning in school and the indigenous teachings he has learned through his family. While DJ may have better access to information than most high school students—his mother and grandmother own and operate Two Feathers LLC, providing diversity, equity, and inclusion consulting for education, health care, and other professional settings, as well as keynote speeches like Indigenous 101: All the things you didn’t learn in K12—he realized that many of his friends and fellow school students not only lacked accurate information but in many cases, believed that Native Americans were a people of the past which no longer exist.

What if, DJ wondered, there was a really great video with all the information included in Indigenous 101 that could be provided for free to teachers without access to accurate information or who don’t feel comfortable teaching Indigenous history, told by Indigenous people in the community? What if it was made by Indigenous youth and highlighted Indigenous history in the making that they want to see in schools?

With this idea, he officially joined Two Feathers, turning it into a three-generation family-owned Indigenous enterprise. DJ and his mother, Heather Keeler, are enrolled members of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, and his grandmother, Donna Keeler, is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.

“When this started, it was very much me and my mom,” Heather Keeler, co-owner of Two Feathers and DJ’s mother, said. “I’ve never pressured my kids to be a part of this, but DJ is seeing opportunities and brought this idea to me. I think any mom would love to be able to say that they’re building a business with their mom and their child. As indigenous people, we very much believe in the seven-generation connection and that each generation is kind of leading the way and then picking up that and laying, more groundwork for a better world. I can help fact-check some of his information and connect him to some of the networks and resources I’ve built in this business, but he is taking steps to learn on his own. I love that instead of complaining about an education system he doesn’t see himself in, he’s finding a way to invest in his talents and try to make things better.”

With the video initiative, DJ will be building on skills he’s been developing capturing real life at Powwows and on reservations with still images and photography, as well as through the high school yearbook team, to incorporate the indigenous tradition of oral storytelling. DJ will be embarking on this new endeavor with more than the support of his family and their business. DJ and Two Feathers were named the October 2023 grantee of the Cass Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation whose $1,000 gift will help provide funding for video editing classes to assist with the production of the video, and Two Feathers will partner with AM 950/Native Roots Radio to assist with the promotion and dissemination of the video and its contents once complete. As Two Feathers’ business mission is to provide community resources, and quality resources are often expensive, the goal is to have a YouTube link accessible and free for teachers and community members to incorporate where appropriate.

“I just love how this idea could be used in all different ways,” Heather said. “It can be used educationally for Indigenous Peoples’ Day and Native American Heritage Month, but parts of the video could be clipped and incorporated into some of the bigger keynotes that we do. AM 950/Native Roots Radio can take short clips and share them on the radio, sharing them regionally in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. There are so many possibilities. I just love how this sets us up to go in the future. To me, this is what generational growth looks like— supporting my son as he steps up to lead the way and start something that could be wonderful.”

As a full-time high school student and athlete, the process of learning to create professional-quality videos will take time. However, DJ has taken advantage of November as Native American Heritage Month to begin the interviewing, setting the content creation in motion, and is working with AM 950/ Native Roots Radio which is providing him with media mentoring.

“At the end of the day, we just want our region to have resources to know how beautiful our culture is,” states Heather.

Don’t wait for the video to hear from Two Feathers LLC!

Two Feathers will be partnering with AM950/Native Roots Radio Network to produce a podcast launching in January 2024. Tune in!
Facebook | /TwoFeathersLLC

The Cass-Clay chapter of the Awesome Foundation awards a $1,000 gift each month for awesome ideas of all sorts. Grant recipients do not need to be associated with a nonprofit. Applications can be made at

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Brady Drake is the editor of Fargo INC!