ZUNI, NM (May 15, 2023) — On Thursday, May 4, the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project welcomed 167 members of the community to its 2nd annual Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives event. Made possible by support from the Administration for Native Americans and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the event started at 5:30 p.m. in Ho’n A:wan Park.

Enric Tsalate, ZYEP’s built environment coordinator, led the opening prayer. Guest speakers afterward included Pueblo of Zuni Archive/Records Management Assistant Brittany Garcia; Miss Zuni Talia Wallance, Junior Miss Zuni Kaliya Kallestewa, and Zuni Princess Leila Peyketewa from the Zuni Royalty Organization; ZYEP Executive Director Tahlia Natachu; and ZYEP Art Coordinator Elroy Natachu Jr., who provided information about the nonprofit youth organization’s arts programming and the MMIR Art Showcase. Zuni High School Ambassador Kyle Yatsattie was in attendance.

To raise awareness about MMIR, the youth project hosted a 1-mile run-walk around the local neighborhood. Event participants also were able to choose a quarter-mile walk around Ho’n A:wan Park or an engaging Zumba session with instructors Tara Wolfe, who also is ZYEP’s program manager, and Kathy Natachu.

“We were so happy with the turnout, because there were so many great events happening in the community that evening that promoted a healthier Zuni,” Tahlia Natachu said. “It was wonderful to know that our community members were engaged in these healthy opportunities.

“We also were happy to see the number of elders and families with young children in strollers at our event,” she continued, “because we want this to be an inclusive event, accessible to all.”

Created in 2022 to recognize the MMIW/MMIR social movement and the sacredness of Native people, the event also included an “awareness fair” in Ho’n A:wan Park that allowed community partners to highlight available resources. It also included the eagerly anticipated MMIR Art Showcase.

“Our featured artists completed Emerging Artist Apprenticeships in the last six months and are now working on their Advanced Artist Apprenticeships,” Natachu said. “This was a wonderful opportunity for them to show their work, and many of them created pieces that they designed specifically to bring awareness for our Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives.”

That was just the beginning of a busy weekend for ZYEP’s art students. On May 5-7, they traveled to Bernalillo, New Mexico, to show and sell their work at the Bernalillo Indian Arts Festival.

Participating artists included Cody Cachini, Breydon Othole, and Nicholas Koruh-Ukestine, who completed Emerging Artist Apprenticeships in painting; and Mia Sutanto, Cassandra Tsalate, and LaShea Harris, who are currently working on their Advanced Artist Apprenticeships. Sutanto displayed her two-dimensional graphic art, Tsalate shared her Zuni pottery, and Harris showcased her Pueblo embroidery; Harris also won first place in the show’s Personal Attire category.

“We are so proud of all of our students,” Natachu said. “We also are deeply grateful to our partners, families and friends; we couldn’t do this without their support.”

To learn more about the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project and its programs, and for information about making donations, partnering with ZYEP, and volunteering, call (505) 782-8000 or visit zyep.org. And, to stay up to date on the latest news and events, follow the nonprofit youth organization on Facebook (/zuniyouthenrichmentproject), Instagram (@zuniyouthenrichmentproject), YouTube (/ZuniYouth), and TikTok (/zyep09)


Founded in 2009, the nonprofit Zuni Youth Enrichment Project is dedicated to promoting resilience among Zuni youth so they will grow into strong, healthy adults who are connected with Zuni traditions. ZYEP fulfills its mission by providing positive role models, enriching programs, and nurturing spaces that contribute to the healthy development of Zuni youth. ZYEP strives to provide every child with the encouragement and opportunities they need to reach their full potential.