We are committed to restoring and modeling traditional Salish values in a way that promotes success in any environment. We utilize consensus practices within our entire organization.
Trained and Experienced Staff
Professional Advisory Board
Elder Advisory Board
Stephen Hunt is Blackfeet (Amskapii Pikaanii), Nez Perce (Nimipuu), Sioux (Sisseton), Pend d’Oreille (Ql'ispé), Chippewa Cree (Ne Hiyawak), and was raised on the Flathead Indian Reservation. As part of his day job, Hunt has worked for his family’s 3rd generation family run business, Hunts Timbers Inc. In addition, he has helped with branding, marketing, websites, and SEO for other local companies. He is also a photographer with a premier exhibition at the Missoula Art Museum, in 2018. In 2020, Stephen was selected and awarded the inaugural NDN Changemaker fellowship.
However, he places his greatest efforts on his daughters, where he seeks to instill in his children the importance of land and culture. He regularly gives back to his community by volunteering, co-organizing, working with youth at cultural camps, and mentoring indigenous youth in his community.
Hunt can also be seen on the powwow circuit singing with Black Otter, an original, Blackfoot-style and champion drum group.
Prior to completing his Bachelor of Social Work at Salish Kootenai College, Stephen had long dreamed of creating a permanent home and working ranch for First People’s Children in the foster care system. The ranch would be traditionally based, would be fully sustainable, and would build a foundation for indigenous youth to be successful in any world. This dream is now a work in progress with the formation of Snqʷeyɫmistn and its co-founders.
April Iris Charlo comes from the Bitterroot Salish people and is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. She holds several degrees: a Masters in Education Leadership, a Bachelors in elementary education, and an Associates in Native American Studies. April was born and raised on the Flathead Reservation in Northwest Montana and is a key player in the arena of community wellness.
April has been deeply involved in the revitalization of Indigenous language and has worked in the role of Executive Director of the Salish people’s language immersion school. After a time at home with her son Chief, who is now five years old, April has worked for the Special Olympics, Hopa Mountain, and started an organization to support her community during the pandemic.
Somehow, she has still made time for self-healing, running, and enjoying her son on her ranch in the Mission mountains.
Erika Koskela is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Tribes of California, and a descendant of the Chinook and Quinault tribes of Washington. She has lived in Montana for 16 years, mainly on the Flathead Reservation, where she attended SKC receiving degrees in Psychology and Social Work.
Erika became involved with Nkwusm Immersion School in 2002 as a parent, where she proceeded to engage in Salish language revitalization as a board member, substitute teacher, and student. She enjoys staying connected to the school, as it was there that she found her passion for language revitalization.
In 2018, Erika was certified in Equine Facilitated Learning through MontanaQuest. Working at River Pines Horse Sanctuary, Erika has developed a rites of passage program. Nyopiewtn, an equine guided rite of passage program, was launched in June of 2021. This year the program will evolve into a year-round coming-of-age ceremony for girls ages 13-16.
As a mother of 5 grown children, Erika understands the challenges and rewards of raising children. Passionate about cultural resilience, she is eager to co-create an intentional foster community. In 2021 Erika officially took the position of Chief Administrator.
Born on the Flathead Indian reservation, Gary is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. After graduating from high school, Gary began a career in the hair and beauty industry. As a stylist and instructor in one of Denver's top salons, he was presented the opportunity to acquire one of his former boss’ salons. Gary exceeded his own expectations in his profession, committing 30 years of dedication and enjoying world travels with some of his 50 employees to hair and fashion shows around the world representing Intercoiffure USA/Canada.
The next chapter in Gary’s life took him to Salish Kootenai college, back in his homelands. Gary earned his Bachelor's degree in Social Work and fulfilled his internship at the Fatherhood Program. After graduating, Gary worked for Tribal Child Protective Services.
Gary created a youth backpacking summer course that prepares a beginner for a 3-5 day trip into the Mission Range. His program focuses on areas of knowledge that include connection to ancestral lands/trails and purposes, native plant identification, survival and directional skills, fire and its uses, roles of males and females in society, and hunting and fishing skills.
As a full time father of an 8 year old foster daughter, Gary has committed to positive change for youth on the Flathead Indian reservation and is looking forward to exceeding his and his co-founders expectations of a foster care ranch/farm on our reserve through an intentional foster community.
Gena Montoya grew up on the Flathead Reservation where she enjoyed being with her family and running wild with her cousins. After many years of wild running she attended the University of Montana, obtaining her Bachelor's degree from the University of Montana Business School in Financial Accounting.
While at the University of Montana, she was an advocate for women’s empowerment. She helped women work toward reunification with their kids who had been removed by CPS. She provided intervention and support services for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse while they recover from the trauma of such horrific events. These experiences shaped Gena’s career path and motivated her to obtain a Master's degree in Social Work from Walla Walla University.
After graduating, Gena moved back to the Flathead Reservation to share what she learned and help her community. She has worked at the Kicking Horse Job Corps and the Salish Kootenai College before getting her position at CSKT Behavioral Health as a child and adolescent therapist. She joined the board of Snqʷeyɫmistn in 2021 and has been a great support in our mission as an organization.
In her free time Gena runs her two kids, a 12 year old daughter and 10 year old son -“the best parts of me”- to their many practices and games. With her husband, she loves to spend their spring and summer watching their children play basketball, baseball, and softball throughout the Pacific Northwest. In winters watching them play basketball and going skiing/snowboarding in the Montana mountains. On more relaxed days, she loves to chill in nature with her parents and her little sister.
Craig Stevenson is a practicing mental health therapist on the Flathead Reservation. A first generation descendant of Salish and Kootenai tribes, Craig is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. He moved to the reservation at a young age when his mother got a position working for the CS&K Tribes. After graduating high school, he studied Social Work at University of Montana obtaining his Bachelor’s degree in 2007. The following year he enrolled in Walla Walla University where he got his Master’s degree in Social Work.
With over twenty years of experience as a mental health therapist, Snqʷeyɫmistn was thrilled when he accepted the invitation to join the board in 2021. He has been helping people on the Reservation overcome the struggles of addiction, depression, and anxiety. In 2009 he helped develop a Chemical Dependency Counseling program at Salish Kootenai College. Craig brings his optimism and expertise to the organization and believes that to begin healing generational trauma, we need to utilize the practices passed down by elders.
When off the clock Craig unwinds by building birdhouses and bird baths, providing rest and relaxation for migratory flocks. Playing board games with his family, winning board games with his family. He loves sharing laughs, and throwing frisbees while calling others Bob.
Nicole is passionate about serving tribal children and families and is always seeking ways to generate positive outcomes. She is an enrolled Bitterroot Salish tribal member with more than 7 years of experience working in the tribal foster care system as both a case worker and manager. After graduating from Salish Kootenai College with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, she worked for Early Childhood Services and the Behavioral Health Program in the Tribal Health Department before joining Friends of the Children-Western Montana as a program manager. She is currently pursuing her Master of Social Work from Walla Walla University with the intention of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Nicole joined the board of Snqʷeyɫmistn because she recognizes that children are the most valuable and precious resource of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
In her spare time, Nicole enjoys cheering her own children on throughout their extracurricular activities including softball, volleyball, and wrestling. Nicole also loves reading, baking, crafting and exploring the great outdoors with her family.
Americorp Vista/Grant Writer
Jonny is an Americorp Vista serving at Snqʷeyɫmistn through the University of Montana. He is helping build capacity for the organization by writing grant proposals and helping develop databases to track activity. He came out to Montana for a change of landscape, and can be often seen looking dreamily into the mountains.
He was born and raised in Iowa, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Iowa. The Iowa Hawkeyes, 2023 champions of the Big Ten West, are his favorite football team and he loves going to games with his family. In his off time he loves to go for walks, continue his quest to see every movie ever (except for the bad ones), and to read and write about books.
If you stop by the Old Creamery Mall feel free to give him a wave and a howdy do!