Missy Whiteman

Meet the artist

Missy Whiteman
missy whiteman portraitMissy Whiteman (Northern Arapaho and Kickapoo) is an Emmy-nominated writer, director, producer and multi-media artist. Missy understands her work to be a voice for her ancestors, their stories and ancestral wisdom. Her late father, Ernest Whiteman, influenced her work with the gift of artistic vision and practice of art as a ceremony.

Many of Missy’s films have screened on international, national and local venues such as The Walker Art Center, National Geographic All Roads Festival and Bilabo Spain. Missy is a current recipient of the McKnight Fellowship for Media Arts, a Forecast Public Art Mid-Career grant and is the alumni of The Sundance Native Lab Fellowship and Jerome Fellowship for her short film project The Coyote Way: Going Back Home. Her current project, The Coyote Way X: Expanded Cinema is a multidimensional cinematic experience of The Coyote Way: Going Back Home short film intertwined with performance, live score, video mapping and 360/VR.

To learn more about Missy Whiteman, follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at @going_back_home and @Missy_Whiteman.

About her art

“Indigenous women and girls make up 1% of the state’s population, but from 2010-2018, 8% of all murdered women and girls in Minnesota were Indigenous.

They are at a higher risk of violence because of systemic risk factors: poverty and homelessness, child welfare involvement, and domestic violence. These risk factors are rooted in structural racism and generational trauma.

Insufficient resources, inadequate training, and poor communication among law enforcement agencies cause investigations and prosecutions to fail.

The path to reform is a path toward healing. This begins with recognizing that the historic violence against Indigenous communities is more than an isolated public safety issue. Everything is connected.”

On display now

Cultural transmissions facilitate how behaviors are developed and traditions are formed. During the month of November, we celebrate both Thanksgiving and Native American Heritage Month. The artists of the Hennepin Theatre Trust & All My Relations Arts, We Are Still Here cohort, have created work that challenges the audience to disrupt the cultural transmissions embedded in traditions around Thanksgiving, celebrate the contemporary presence of Native American dancers and musicians, and offers a call for healing through truth and reconciliation.

In her new works, All Children are Sacred, and We Will Always Be, Missy addresses the painful history of the destruction and desecration of sacred sites and the trauma of Indian boarding schools. Despite the painful parts of our history and historical trauma,  Missy shares, “Truth telling and reconciliation are vital to the healing process and today many individuals and families have reconnected with their traditions, languages and practices and  undoing the traumas and mending hearts and spirits.”

We Will Always Be
by Missy Whiteman

We Will Always Be, billboard encompasses the history of Owami (St. Anthony Falls), the history of the dedication of this sacred site that begins with a Detail of a map of land “claimed” by France for King Louis XV and the route of the Mississippi River (Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Mississippi), 1718. Map by Guillaume de L’Isle, published by Chez l’Auteur. The map shows French fur trading forts along the Mississippi. Collage of archival photos of after the falls were dynamited for logging and milling.

Despite what physical use this sacred site was used for, it will always remain holy to the Indigenous people of this land and connect us to all creation.

All Children Are Sacred

All Children Are Sacred
by Missy Whiteman

Traditionally Indigenous people  believe that our children are sacred and gifts from the creator. When a child chooses their parents, their spirit is born from a star.

All Children Are Sacred billboard represents the forced colonization of Indigenous Children in The United States. In July of 2021, this dark history was made public in the findings of 215 childrens’ remains in Canada and still counting in the thousands.Orange represents the #EveryChildMatters campaign and 1879 represents the year the first American Indian Boarding School was opened.

Opened in 1879 in Pennsylvania, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School was the first government-run boarding school for Native Americans. Civil War veteran Lt. Col. Richard Henry Pratt spearheaded the effort to create an off-reservation boarding school with the goal of forced assimilation. The Army transferred Carlisle Barracks, a military post not in regular use, to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for use as a boarding school.

Students were forced to cut their hair, change their names, stop speaking their Native languages, convert to Christianity, and endure harsh discipline including corporal punishment and solitary confinement. This approach was ultimately used by hundreds of other Native American boarding schools, some operated by the government and many more operated by churches.

Pratt, like many others at that time, believed that the only hope for Native American survival was to shed all native culture and customs and assimilate fully into white American culture. His common refrain was “Kill the Indian, Save the Man.”  This “education process” continued for over 150 years for generations, creating historical trauma in families, addiction, alcoholism, abuse and many other mental and spiritual illnesses.

Truth telling and reconciliation are vital to the healing process and today many individuals and families have reconnected with their traditions, languages and practices and undoing the traumas and mending hearts and spirits.

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland announced a new initiative that would delve into the records of the federal schools to which Native American children were forcibly relocated for 150 years.

Learn more:

There are many initiatives in the U.S. and in Canada and here in Minnesota The National Boarding School Healing Coalition has been working for many years to raise awareness and create policies in relation to funding and research.

About the digital artists’ cohort

We Are Still Here will re-center Native voices and stories in the Hennepin Theatre District and the Native American Cultural Corridor through the work of a Native artists’ cohort working in a variety of digital and analog media, leading to a large-scale public art project by fall 2020. All My Relations Arts and Hennepin Theatre Trust have committed to this multiyear partnership to weave Native culture back into Hennepin Avenue with temporary and permanent art that engages Native and non-Native people in a deeper sense of place and share future.

More about We Are Still Here