About Us


Our Vision

The Center for Native Futures brings together Native artists to imagine ourselves richly, where art can provide a lens to learn from the past, nurture our present, and realize a thriving future.

Mission Statement

The Center for Native Futures is the epicenter of Native creativity that fosters Native artists of all backgrounds.

Indigenous Futurism(s)

Indigenous Futurism(s) are artistic means for expanding possibilities and realities by imagining our realities without colonial limitations. The definition  of this term is ever-changing and dynamic.


Debra Yepa-Pappan

(Jemez Pueblo/Korean) is a visual artist with international acclaim. Her multimedia practice, which combines digital collage and photography, centers on themes about her mixed-race identity that incorporates symbolic imagery influenced by her cultures and urban environment. Currently, Debra serves as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Native American Exhibition renovation at The Field Museum. Through her artwork and work at the museum, she’s committed to changing inaccurate representations of Native people and advocates for the inclusion of Native first voice and perspectives.

Monica Rickert-Bolter

(Potawatomi/African American/German) is a Chicago-based visual artist, copyeditor, and journalist. Her artwork combines traditional techniques with digital coloring to create expressive characters and tell their diverse stories. Passionate about storytelling through art and writing, she advocates for cultural representation in any project she undertakes. Monica has been writing for online publications related to Native American issues and tribally-owned businesses, under the pen name “Whitepigeon,” her family name. Recently, she finished illustrating and designing children’s books for Culture Story and Smyles Creative, LLC.

River Kerstetter

(Wisconsin Oneida) is an artist and writer who believes that art and storytelling are vital parts of collective healing and connection, especially in Indigenous, Two-Spirit, and LGBTQIA+ communities who fight to be seen and safe every day. River has taught art for youth and young adults for eight years, including at the Chicago Center for Arts & Technology, Columbia College Chicago, and Working Classroom in Albuquerque, NM. She is a co-founder of TIES, a reading series that celebrates Indigenous, Two-Spirit, and LGBTQ+ writers.

Patrick Del Percio

(Cherokee/Italian/Irish descent) is a Cherokee language instructor, translator, and writer. Residing in Oklahoma City, OK, they are on the faculty at the University of Oklahoma. Patrick has worked on various translation projects for software companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Facebook. Recently, they co-authored a Cherokee language textbook for beginners, ᏣᎳᎩ ᎣᏣᏕᎶᏆᎠ: We Are Learning Cherokee. Through their teaching, writing, and language advocacy, Patrick works to raise awareness of and create inclusive spaces for the continuation of Cherokee language, history, and culture.

Andrea Carlson

(Ojibwe) is a visual artist and writer currently living on Potawatomi land in Chicago, IL. Andrea’s layered practice includes painting, drawing, and arts writing on subjects ranging from museum studies to Indigenous Futurisms to assimilation metaphors in film. Her art is in various collections, such as the British Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Walker Art Center, and the National Gallery of Canada. She received awards from McKnight Foundation (2008), Joan Mitchell Foundation (2016), and 3Arts “Make A Wave” (2020).

Chris Pappan

(Kanza/Osage/Lakota descent) is a nationally-recognized painter and ledger artist. Based on Plains art tradition, his work literally reflects the dominant culture’s distorted perceptions of Native peoples. Chris became an agent of change at The Field Museum with Drawing On Tradition, a two-year exhibit and intervention in the neglected and problematic Native American hall that presented contemporary Indigenous perspectives. His works are in collections of renowned institutions worldwide including the National Museum of the American Indian and The North American Native Museum of Geneva, Switzerland.


Zhegagoynak (Potawatomi for Chicago) is called many names by the various Native nations who have called this city home. We acknowledge the US government's forced removal of the Potawatomi people, and we recognize those who found a way to continually remain here. We honor the solidarity of the Nishnabek people in this place: Potawatomi, Ojibwe, Odawa, and Menominee, as well as the Ho-Chunk, Myaamia, and Peoria people, and many other nations who have maintained Zhegagoynak as an Indigenous place. We are here for Natives.

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