What does it mean to own land? This is just one of the many questions the play We Own This Now asks.
Reba Place Church is bringing this play to Evanston to foster a conversation about reparative justice for Native Americans. Admissions are free, but the church suggests a $10 donation. All donations, minus production costs, will go toward the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston and Chi-Nations Youth Council in Chicago.
“The lesson is really more about how any of us who benefit from the forced removal of Native Americans can reckon with that history,” said co-pastor Laura Kraybill.
The showings are March 17 at 7 p.m. and March 18 at 3 p.m., at 620 Madison St. Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Unitarian Church of Evanston are also co-sponsoring the event.
The play follows a Chris and Riley, father and daughter, as they discover the disturbing truth about the land their family has farmed for almost 100 years. The two learn alongside the audience how the Doctrine of Discovery legally permits stealing Indigenous Peoples’ land.
Kraybill, who joined the church in August, is passionate about both theatre and ministry.
“Those are my two loves,” she said.
The play, although written by Alison Casella Brookins who is a pastor, isn’t outright religious.
We Own This Now‘s efforts to get justice for Indigenous peoples ties it to ministry, Kraybill said.
“I see ministry as anything that pursues justice, and as people of faith, we care a lot about justice and making sure that our neighbors are treated with justice and dignity,” Kraybill said. “It doesn’t necessarily emphasize faith, but for us, at Reba Place Church, this is an outpouring of our faith in God because we believe in a God of justice.”
The audience will have the opportunity to ask questions and share their thoughts with the cast at the conclusion of each showing.
Reba Place Church’s racial justice team wanted to bring this play to town as part of its anti-racism commitment. These efforts will expand to include more ways to support reparations in the city, Kraybill said.
“We can’t change history, but we can make a contribution,” Kraybill said. “We can be at least informed and seek to be building relationships and having education around this.”