Messages from Artistic Director

May 29, 2020

Dear Friends and Family,

The last three months have maybe been the hardest condensed moments we have seen on our soil in our lifetimes. Tribal communities everywhere, and especially the Navajo Nation, have become the highest victims of Covid-19, Asian Americans have become random targets of violence, and George Floyd.

Yet another death of a Black man by the hands of police has revealed the truths that so many of us have felt our entire lives: that our souls are not valued. Last night, we all gathered in stages of fear, grief, helplessness, and outrage as physical threats to our communities not only tried to raze our neighborhoods but also our spirits.

Our Black relatives are hurting. We share your grief, your blood, your tears. Black and Native communities have the highest rates of police brutality and sadly we’ve heard from community members that same officer was also involved in the death of a Native man in 2006 among other incidents in the Native community since then.

Together we’ve felt the specter of racism and hate on a daily basis. Every time we couldn’t make ends meet, every time the police wouldn’t respond to our calls for help, every time our vulnerable went missing or were murdered, every time our heroes were taken, every time our calls for justice were ignored, every time our water was poisoned and our land was taken, every time our health was threatened, every time we had to perform as harmless and friendly, every time we were ignored and vetted, and feared. Every time we produce a play and our base goal has to be to humize the brown bodies on stage because our humanity has been denied too many times. Everytime, every time.

NNT hasn’t offered a message since the pandemic started and we’ll be honest, it’s because it is hitting our communities hard. And we’re tired and hurting. It’s not just because of this moment, but also because of years of neglect, DNA memories of genocide activating, and real pain from losing our relatives. The majority of NNT’s friends and family and supporters live in South Minneapolis and we would never have come into being without this community, and without the support of so many Black, Asian American, and Latinx mentors.

This morning, if it wasn’t clear before, WE ALL feel the effects of when racism against Black men and women is perpetrated. And it is all our duty as citizens to stop the injustice against Black men, women and children no matter who we are and what challenges we face ourselves. We are grieved to hear of the fire at Migizi Communications who holds so much of the physical memory of the Twin Cities Native community. And we once again deeply understand how if one person is denied justice we all are.

There is no more time to wait for someone else to fix our problems or to think it doesn’t have a direct effect on our own lives. We need to be the change we want to see. NNT holds our officials accountable for justice to be served and for an entire community of red, black, brown and yellow folks whose voices have been ignored, perverted, translated, and muted for years to be seen and heard and loved in a new paradigm of healing and equity.

South Minneapolis, we send you our smudge and prayers and support.

You are Loved
You are Valued
You are Seen

We will do our part in addressing anti Black bias and in uplifting the stories of our mutual humanity as we rebuild our homes and rebuild our sense of safety and power again, together.


Rhiana Yazzie
Artistic Director