Dr. Brenda K. Manuelito (Diné) is a 2015 graduate of the PhD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

Foreground L-R (Faculty): Mr. Dan Hart, M.F.A., Committee Member (U. Washington); Dr. Luana Ross, Committee Member (U. Washington); Dr. Brenda Manuelito; Dr. Carmella Rodriguez; Dr. Carolyn Kenny, Chair (University of British Columbia); Dr. Elizabeth Holloway (Antioch University). Not Shown: Dr. Jo-Ann Archibald, External Reader (University of British Columbia).

Background L-R (Tribal Community Co-Researchers): Eva Petoskey, M.S., Director, ATR, Anishnaabek Healing Circle, Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Inc.; Terri Tavenner, Associate Director, ATR, Anishnaabek Healing Circle, Inter-Tribal Council of Michigan, Inc.; Linda Woods, M.S.W., Consultant; and Arlene Kashata, M.A., Consultant.

Dissertation Committee

  • Carolyn Kenny, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Elizabeth Holloway, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Luana Ross, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Daniel Hart, M.F.A., Committee Member
  • Jo-Ann Archibald, Ph.D., External Reader

NOTE: This dissertation is accompanied by a PDF file that contains links to 24 media files on the nDigiStoryMaking YouTube Channel that are referenced in this document. This Supplemental File is accessible at the bottom of this page.


Digital Storytelling, Native Americans, American Indians, Community-Based Participatory Research, Phenomenology, Portraiture, Indigenous Methodologies, Indigenous Resilience, Historical Trauma, Indigenous Film, Substance Abuse Recovery, Multimedia Communications, Survivance

Document Type


Publication Date



As Indigenous peoples, we have a responsibility to our global community to share our collective truths and experiences, but we also deserve the respect to not be objectified, essentialized, and reified. Today, we are in a period of continual Native resurgence as many of us (re)member our prayers, songs, languages, histories, teachings, everyday stories and our deepest wisdom and understanding as Indigenous peoples--we are all “living breath” and we are “all related.” For eight years, Carmella Rodriguez and I have been nDigiStorytelling across the United States and have co-created over 1,200 digital stories with over 80 tribes for Native survivance, healing, hope, and liberation. By the making and sharing of nDigiStories, our training and consulting company called nDigiDreams is Healing Our Communities One Story at a Time.® This dissertation is a phenomenological study about nDigiStorytelling in an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) community in Northern Michigan; it explores two four-day digital storytelling workshops during November 2013 and May 2014. Using an emergent research design called “Three Sisters,” I combine Indigenous methodologies, community-based participatory research, and portraiture to explore the “lived experiences” of our nDigiStorytellers who are thriving and flourishing in their families and communities and who are widely sharing their nDigiStories to help others. An Indigenous approach to digital storytelling is much needed and provides a new avenue for understanding how we can use nDigiStorytelling and our visceral bodies to release ourselves from traumatic experiences and how we can utilize technology and media-making for healing ourselves and others. The electronic version of this Dissertation is available in open access at AURA, and OhioLink ETD Center, This dissertation is accompanied by a PDF that contains links to 24 media files on the nDigiStoryMaking YouTube Channel that are referenced in this document.


Dr. Brenda K. Manuelito (Diné)

Brenda Manuelito (Diné) is from the Towering House Clan (Kíí’yaa’aaníí) born for the Salt People (‘Ashįį’hí). Her maternal grandparents are the Mud Clan (Hat’lishníí) and her paternal grandparents are the Weaver (Zia) Clan (Tł‘ogí). She is the great-great-granddaughter of Chief Manuelito and has familial and ancestral ties to the communities of Naschitti and Tohatchi on the Navajo Nation.

Since 2008, Dr. Manuelito has been the Education Director and Co-Founder of nDigiDreams, LLC (, a woman-owned indigenous focused consulting and training company that focuses on instructional technology and digital storytelling.

For over 25 years, Brenda has regarded her life’s work as being a “cultural broker and translator” between Indigenous communities and mainstream academic, private and public institutions. Towards these ends, she has held various teaching, research and administrative positions at The Smithsonian Institution, The Newberry Library, Diné College, and The Universities of New Mexico, Arizona and Washington. In addition, she has developed and administered various state and federal grants in the area of public health, education and prevention for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

For the past 10 years, she has been coordinating and teaching community-based digital storytelling workshops across Indian Country; most recently, with nDigiDreams Co-Founder and Instructional Designer Dr. Carmella Rodriguez.

Together, Drs. Manuelito and Rodriguez have co-created over 1200 digital stories across 15 states and are beginning to organize local, regional and national digital storytelling festivals called nDigiFests focused on Native critical issues and everyday stories of survivance and resilience. In addition, since 2008, they have co-presented at numerous local, regional, national and international conferences on digital storytelling, Indigenous research, Native health, health literacy and communication and public health.

Dr. Manuelito holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Wyoming, an M.A. from the University of New Mexico, and a Ph.D. in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.


Video: nDigiStorytelling Visual Logic Model Explains both Drs. Manuelito and Rodriguez's complementary dissertations in 12 minutes. Begins with the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) migration story, introduces ATR's Sowing Seeds of Recovery project we collaborated with, and shows the impact and beauty nDigiStorytelling had on one group of Michigan tribal members.

ORCID ID # 0000-0001-5008-8256