October 03, 2011 –
Kent Miller of the Tribal Victims Assistance Program holding one of the tiles that was created for the Community Story Tree Project.
MAYETTA(Oct. 3): The premiere unveiling of a Community Story Tree project, a large mosaic of art tiles created by 72 individuals and shaped into a tree, will take place this Friday, October 7 at jones huyett Partners (3200 SW Huntoon) during the First Friday Art Walk in Topeka. The project, organized by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation’s (PBPN) Tribal Victims Assistance Program (TVAP), was designed to raise awareness about domestic violence and will highlight PBPN’s commitment to ending violence in the community.
Leaders from the PBPN community and artists who created the tree are scheduled to be on hand and the public is invited to attend the unveiling that will run from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
“The Nation has been actively working in family violence prevention for over a decade and is committed to ending domestic violence,” said PBPN Chairman Steve Ortiz. “The Community Story Tree visualizes that commitment and we will continue to work for a violence-free future.”
Micki Martinez, who was one of the artists involved in the project and will also be on hand at the unveiling, said creating one of the tiles helped her let go of the darkness and sadness. “I could not have articulated myself in any other way,” she said. “Through the use of art, it has brought comfort and gratitude to my heart, knowing that I am a survivor.”
The Community Story Tree project began last spring and was scheduled for completion in October in conjunction with National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. After the story tree is unveiled in Topeka, plans are to have it travel to other tribal locations in northeast Kansas and then displayed in the PBPN Government Center. A keepsake book of artists who completed the tiles along with their reflections on domestic violence will become published later this month.
There are 72-12×12 inch tiles that were created by individuals from all walks of life using a variety of mediums which took several months to complete. An art room was established in a building on the reservation where various groups, formed by the TVAP staff, still regularly meet to create art and relax. Among them are the Providers Art Circle that is comprised of tribal employees who provide services to the tribal community, and the Women’s Art Circle which is a workshop for victims of domestic violence or other survivors of violence. There is also an open studio available that has no group designation.
The Community Story Tree project was sponsored by the Potawatomi Tribal Police Department, TVAP and support of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Family Violence Prevention Program and Native Women’s Advocacy Committee.
The Tribal Victims Assistance Program on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation began in 2006 with the purpose of assisting Native American victims of crime and their families. Some of the services they provide include counseling, emergency assistance, criminal justice process information and court accompaniment, transportation assistance and helping with referrals for other services. The program is staffed by Rebekah Jones and Kent Miller who have an office located in the Potawatomi Tribal Police Department. The art room, where the Community Story Tree Project was created, is located in the Old Tribal Court Building.
TVAP also serves the other three tribes in northeast Kansas. The program is funded by a grant from the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, and U.S. Department of Justice.