EventsWhose Lakefront: Chicago's Unceded Native Land

Whose Lakefront: Chicago's Unceded Native Land

6:00 PM – 7:00 PM


Learn about the history and occupation of Indigenous land by marking the presence of unceded territory in the heart of Chicago’s downtown. The “Whose Lakefront” project is based on a 1914 lawsuit brought by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians against Chicago for land along the lakefront. Members of the Pokagon Band, based in Michigan, along with a Native resident of Chicago and non-Native ally will discuss this history and contemporary Native sovereignty as highlighted through a recent public art project marking this unceded territory in the heart of Chicago's downtown. Panelists include JeeYeun Lee, John Low, Madolyn Wesaw, and Debra Yepa-Pappan. This program is co-sponsored by CPL’s Native American Heritage Committee.

JeeYeun Lee is an interdisciplinary artist, writer, and activist whose work explores issues of power, connection, and resistance. Her work has been shown in Chicago, Detroit, Santa Fe, Ohio, Missouri, and France. She has worked with social justice and community-based organizations for over thirty years in immigrant rights, economic justice, LGBTQ issues, and domestic violence. She holds an M.F.A. in Fiber from Cranbrook Academy of Art, M.A. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley, and B.A. in Linguistics from Stanford University.

John N. Low Ph.D. is a citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi and an associate professor at the Ohio State University, where he also serves as Director of the Newark Earthworks Center. John grew up in southwest Michigan and lived for over 15 years in Chicago. He is currently involved in projects with the Field Museum of Natural History, the City of Chicago, the Chicago History Museum, and the MacArthur Foundation.

Madolyn Wesaw is Manager of Tribal Placement and Development at Four Winds Casinos, where she focuses on helping tribal citizens obtain meaningful employment and work towards their professional and educational goals. A citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, she also serves Indigenous and other marginalized groups through her work with the American Indian Movement Chapter of Indiana and Kentucky. In addition, she serves on the Interim Coordinating Committee of the Michiana Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression.

Debra Yepa-Pappan (Jemez Pueblo/Korean) is a visual artist with international acclaim in the field of contemporary Native American art, a co-founder of the newly formed Chicago based Center for Native Futures, and the Native Community Engagement Coordinator at the Field Museum, where she welcomes Native American guests to the museum and facilitates their visits to collections. As an active member of the Chicago Native American community, she also serves as a liaison between the museum and the community both locally and nationally. Through her artwork and her work at the Field Museum she is committed to changing inaccurate representations of Native people, and advocates for the inclusion of Native first voice and perspectives. Yepa-Pappan lives in her hometown Chicago with her husband, artist Chris Pappan, and their daughter Ji Hae.

How to Attend:

This event will take place live on CPL's YouTube channel. and CPL's Facebook page. You'll be able to ask questions during the event as well!
Can't make it to the live stream? We'll archive the video on YouTube to watch later as well.


Need captioning for this event? Please call (312) 747-4015. Requests must be made at least 10 business days before the event.

This event is part of the One Book, One Chicago 2021 season, exploring the theme "Neighborhoods: Our City's Bedrock" and the book Bedrock Faith by Eric Charles May. For more information visit

One Book, One Chicago
Suitable for:
History and Genealogy

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