Beginnings: Indigenous Stories at the Field Museum


Nov 19, 2022


Field Museum
1400 S Lake Shore Dr
Chicago, IL 60605


Open to the Public

Illinois Humanities is thrilled to celebrate the launch of The NEA Big Read: Indigenous Stories with our friends at the Field Museum amongst their groundbreaking exhibition, Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories. The Museum will host a three-part event that includes an at-your-own-pace exploration of the exhibition, an introduction to The NEA Big Read: Indigenous Stories and the contemporary Native texts it explores, and a special behind-the-scenes discussion of Native Truths with the team responsible for bringing it to fruition.

Guests will receive free admission to Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories, courtesy of the Field Museum. Guests are encouraged to arrive early to view the exhibition before attending the program at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets to this event are limited and registration is required. RSVP below to reserve admission to the exhibition and program.

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The Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories exhibition allows you to experience stories told by Native people of self-determination, resilience, continuity, and the future. Native Truths offers an opportunity to connect with diverse Native stories and the individuals who share them; dive deeply into current issues, like threats to Native land and the rights of tribal nations to govern themselves; and celebrate the thriving, modern cultures of today’s Native communities. LEARN MORE


Monica Rickert-Bolter is a Chicago-based visual artist and journalist of Potawatomi, Black, and German descent. Passionate about storytelling through art, she advocates for cultural representation in any project she undertakes. Monica pays homage to her Whitepigeon family name as a journalist and writes to amplify Natives in the arts.

Monica is also a co-founder of the newly established arts nonprofit, Center for Native Futures. There, she will use her decade’s worth of nonprofit experience to create a more inclusive and equitable arts community throughout the city.

Brian Vallo is a member of the Pueblo of Acoma in New Mexico. He recently completed 3-terms as Governor of his tribe.

Brian has dedicated over 30 years working on sacred sites protection, repatriation of ancestors and their associated funerary items, historic preservation, language revitalization, cultural tourism, and the arts. Brian works with museums throughout the country and internationally as a consultant on exhibit development, collections stewardship, education, and policy.

A self-taught potter and painter, Brian is inspired by historic Pueblo pottery forms and designs as well as the cultural and natural environment of Acoma.

Jason Wesaw is a multi-disciplinary artist, creating works in an array of media including ceramics, drawings, textiles, and traditional cultural pieces. His projects are informed by the land and relate stories that are rooted in place and the acknowledgement of spirit. He balances being a maker with working in his tribal community as a Peacemaker, sustaining cultural ceremonies, and sharing traditional knowledge across the Great Lakes. Jason is Potawatomi (Turtle Clan) and lives near the historic Pokagon Potawatomi settlement of Rush Lake, in southwestern Michigan. He has three children and a network of family, friends, and ceremonial relatives from across Turtle Island. He creates art for markets, galleries, & exhibitions, and his work is in the permanent collections of the Eiteljorg Museum (IN), Grand Valley State University (MI), and the Newberry Library (Chicago, IL).

Debra Yepa-Pappan, Moderator, is the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Native American Exhibit Hall at Field Museum. She is also a co-founder of the Center for Native Futures and a board member at Illinois Humanities. Debra is Korean and a tribally enrolled member of the Pueblo of Jemez. She is an artist with international acclaim in the field of contemporary Native American art, and through her artwork and her work at the Field Museum and Center for Native Futures she is committed to changing inaccurate representations of Native people, and advocates for the inclusion of Native first voice and perspectives.


The Field Museum is in the heart of Chicago’s Museum Campus at 1400 South Lake Shore Drive. It’s simple to get there by car, public transportation, or bike. They offer parking on the Museum Campus, with wheelchair-accessible parking available on a first-come, first-served basis in the East Museum Lot. VISIT THEIR SITE FOR DETAILS.


The Field Museum does not require proof of vaccination or masks for visitors. However, they strongly encourage all visitors to wear masks while in the building. VISIT THEIR SITE FOR DETAILS ON ADDITIONAL SAFETY MEASURES.


This event is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.


This event is a part of The NEA Big Read: Indigenous Stories, a series of free book groups celebrating contemporary Native writers. Book groups, events, and hands-on workshops are being held throughout the Chicago area from November 2022 to April 2023. Learn about other events and join a book group at

National Endowmentof Arts