Spring Senior Seminar Class Partners with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe


By: Evie CaldwellDTC 497 students sit in the Coeur d’Alene Casino and Resort bus.

DTC 497: Senior Seminar always includes a major multimedia project for a nonprofit organization or other community partner. DTC Director Kim Christen’s Spring 2020 class is partnering with the Coeur d’Alene Tribe. The class is split into five groups, and each group is working on a different project for the Coeur d’Alene Casino and Resort. The students took a trip on the casino bus to Coeur d’Alene on January 31 to meet with their community partners and start on their projects.

The Coeur d’Alene Tribe recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Coeur d’Alene Casino. Because of its status as a sovereign nation, the tribe’s economic situation can be very tenuous. While entertainment is obviously a central goal of the casino, a portion of the money earned goes back into the community for education, social services for elders, and similar shared needs.

Prior to the collaboration some students did not know what to expect working with a tribal nation and their casino businesses. Learning about its importance to the tribe completely changed their minds. “They introduced us to the various ways they share their culture to Idaho communities around the area and how much value they put into things such as education, children in the community and their cultural identity,” said Mario Garcia Leigh, a DTC 497 student. “I took away a new understanding of the Coeur d’Alene people, and I am excited to learn more about their culture and traditions by working with them.” The students are looking forward to partnering with the tribe and contributing to projects with the potential to benefit others.

The casino’s cultural tourism group will be working with the first group of DTC students. The cultural tourism group puts on the annual Anniversary Powwow and offers traditional workshops, and the students will be creating promotional videos for both. They will also be designing brochures.

Two groups of students are working with restaurants in the casino, Nighthawk Lounge and Chinook Steak, Pasta and Spirits. Both restaurants have new chefs and new menus, and they are focusing on bringing in Native foods. The students will be redoing their menus and logos, and one group will also be producing short promotional videos for social media.

One group of DTC 497 students seated at a table view a Native painting.The fourth group will be working with the resort’s golf course. The golf club will be hosting a Symetra Tour “Road to the LPGA” tournament for the next three years, and this is the kickoff year. The Symetra Tour is one of the country’s largest events for women golfers. To help spread the word about the tournament, the students partnering with the golf course will be creating one promotional video aimed at sponsors and one promotional video for the general public.

Lastly, the casino has a mobile app which has not had much success in the past. The fifth and final group of students will be working to assess the app and pinpoint any roadblocks currently detering new users. Their main goal will be coming up with strategies to get more people to download the app, such as coupons and social media advertising.

In preparation for their projects, the class has been learning about culturally responsive design and exploring various ways to make sure that design is appropriate. “We must be mindful of ways we choose to create the videos,” said DTC 497 student and Coeur D’Alene tribal member Kyra Antone. “People tend to homogenize Native people, and we can recognize this by overuse of the flute or stereotypical ideas of the ‘mystical Indian’ and that can often perpetuate harmful stereotypes for indigenous people.” Kyra will be one of the students partnering with the casino’s cultural tourism group. Her hope is to take her DTC skills and go back to work for the tribe after graduation, so she is enthusiastic about this chance to collaborate with the casino. “One of the things that is really important for students before they’re leaving is to understand the ‘C’ in ‘DTC’ and that it can come in many different forms,” said Kim Christen. All the students will be striving to make intentional and respectful choices in their designs.

Throughout the semester, the groups will be meeting through Zoom and travelling back and forth from Coeur d’Alene to shoot video. Their final pitches to the tribe will take place in April.