Skip to main content

'Thrilling' video inspires young director

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - In 1999 the First Americans in the Arts Awards (FAITA) awarded a film scholarship to Kathy Peltier to help her write and direct her first short film project called "The Bagel Proposal." Two years later, FAITA again gave Peltier a scholarship to finish a 30-minute short called "Tribal Voices." That same year she made the move to Los Angeles.

Peltier is the daughter of AIM activist Leonard Peltier who sits in prison convicted for the deaths of two FBI agents in 1975. Born in Denver, Peltier was raised in Twin Lakes, N.M. near Gallup on the Navajo Indian Reservation. She and her mother, a Navajo, went back to Colorado when Peltier was 12 years old.

With her father in prison, Peltier understands the feeling of how can you miss something that you never knew. She always wished her dad could have been a part of her life but accepts why he wasn't. She writes letters and communicates with him as much as she can. But, Peltier has no intentions of using or abusing her father's name. She has stood behind her own accomplishments and the talent she brings to her screenplay writing and film directing.

Growing up, Peltier wanted to be a doctor until she witnessed special effects in a music video. It was the 1983 making and extreme make-up effects of the video for "Thriller" by Michael Jackson that fascinated her. After that she knew wanted to be a part of the entertainment industry. At the age of 14, Peltier took acting classes and by high school she had taken a huge interest in directing. On the side, her main hobby was still-photography.

After high school Peltier attended Haskell Indian Junior College in Lawrence, Kan. Surrounded by other Indian students from around the country, Peltier enjoyed Haskell. She also discovered that her interest in photography was more than just a hobby when her pictures were published in a news article.

She continued to take drama and theater tech. She then learned that Haskell taught video production and her interest to direct kept growing.

While she was attending the University of Colorado in Denver, Peltier made a run for NCAI (National Congress of the American Indian) Princess. Although she lost, she had fun trying out and met Valerie Red Horse who sits on the board of FAITA. Peltier told her what she wanted to do in film and TV and in return, Red Horse, sent Peltier an application for a FAITA scholarship. It was with pride and excitement Peltier attended the FAITA Awards to accept the scholarship and she is forever indebted to FAITA and their support of young filmmakers.

In Los Angeles, Peltier gave producer/actress Yvonne Russo her screenplay to read called, "Heart of a Navajo woman." She then submitted it to an ABC talent search for screenwriters. Peltier won recognition for it and plans to direct it as a feature film. It is a drama about the deep prejudice between tribes concerning intermarriage, blood quantum and the struggles of being outside the family circle.

Peltier continues to build her still-photography business in Los Angeles. She does weddings, headshots, postcards and fashion - her artistry is boundless.

Peltier is now a member of the Board of Trustees of FAITA and plans to represent young aspiring talent as best she can and work for young filmmakers who will follow her lead.