COLLINSVILLE — Erin Kelley has blonde hair and an Irish name, but she’s also a Cherokee and a descendant of the Shawnee leader Tecumseh.
On Oct. 15 at Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Kelley will share stories of life as part of a multicultural family and as a Native American in the 21st century.
Her one-person play, “Portrait of My People,” offers not only a personal glimpse into Shawnee and Cherokee history, but also a look at contemporary Native Americans — a group often talked about in the past tense, but who still make substantial social and cultural contributions.
“Portrait of My People” also captures the importance of exploring personal identity. Kelley personifies the saying that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. She encourages young people to explore their family heritage and to embrace all the parts of their own identity.
“Portrait of My People” received a Kevin Kline Award nomination for Outstanding Production for Young Audiences. It has been enthusiastically received at schools and institutions such as the Missouri History Museum, and the Shawnee Cultural Center.
The event is free but seating is limited; call (618) 344-7316 to reserve seats.
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site boasts the largest Native American earthworks north of Mexico. They were part of a huge city created by the Mississippian culture that flourished 1,000 years ago in the Midwest and South.
Cahokia Mounds is eight miles from downtown St. Louis in Collinsville, off Interstates 55/70 (exit 6) and Interstate 255 (exit 24), on Collinsville Road. There is no admission fee but a donation of $7 for adults, $5 for seniors, $2 for students and $15 for families is suggested.
For information, call (618) 346-5160 or visit cahokiamounds.org.
The site is operated by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. IHPA protects the state’s historic resources, which contribute to education, culture and the economy. IHPA sites include ancient burial mounds, forts and buildings erected by settlers, and homes connected to famous Illinoisans.