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Grantee: Spokane Ensemble Theatre

Project Title: According to Coyote Film Adaption
Year awarded: 2023, Round 1

According to Coyote is a one-man play written by the late John Kauffman, a Nez Perce actor and playwright. The show is a storytelling of the trickster Coyote of Native American mythology. Narrated by Coyote, the play was first performed by Kauffman at the Kennedy Center in 1978; Kauffman continued to tour the show throughout the Northwest until his death in 1990. 

In 2022, under the direction of Kauffman’s niece, Josephine Keefe, According to Coyote had a successful stage run with Spokane Ensemble Theatre. Starring Nez Perce actor Kellen Lewis, the anthology style, long-form storytelling was brought to life by a new generation. Keefe, who grew up watching recordings of her uncle performing, collaborated with local artists, crew, and consultants to connect the past to the present in both form and content. 

With SAGA support, Keefe will direct and distribute a short film adaptation of the play this year. The story is a powerful presence, and the film will make it accessible to a wider audience, encouraging a wider celebration of regional identity and Native American identity, including in rural areas and on reservations. 

To learn more about According to Coyote and Spokane Ensemble Theatre, visit