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Tombs of the Vanishing Indian

Tombs of the Vanishing Indian
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Marie Clements
Publisher: Talonbooks
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 81
Pub. Date: 2012
ISBN-10: 0889226865
ISBN-13: 9780889226869
Cast Size: 4 women, 3 men (with doubling)

About the Play:

Tombs of the Vanishing Indian is a full-length drama by Marie Clements. As part of 1950s US policies to relocate reserve Indians to urban centres, three sisters and their mother are uprooted from Oklahoma to Los Angeles. As they try to re-establish connections to a new land, each finds herself lost. The narrative interweaves with another historical injustice – the government-encouraged sterilization of Native women in the 1970s. Inspired by true events, Tombs of the Vanishing Indian is a poetic excavation of the lost stories of displaced Aboriginal people.

Tombs of the Vanishing Indian is a contemporary tragedy that converges the dreams, blood and tears of three separated Native American sisters against the backdrop of the political, cultural and social currents of 1970s Los Angeles. Three young sisters and their mother board a bus bound for Los Angeles, leaving home in Oklahoma as part of the US federal government's assimilationist, termination, and relocation policies of the 1950s. The play dramatizes the emotional, psychological and social repercussions of this, and subsequent, bureaucratic incursions into the girls' lives. Their arrival in California takes a tragic turn when their mother is suddenly killed and the girls are arbitrarily placed in different foster homes, never to see each other again. We follow Janey, Miranda and Jessie as they lead very disparate adult lives: Janey, a troubled vagrant living in poverty; Miranda, a burgeoning actor fighting typecasting in Hollywood; Jessie, the most successful of the three, an idealist physician who's married to a medical colleague. It was bureaucratic policy that had dismantled their secure family unit and sent each girl into the unknown, and then a government paper ultimately brings them together, if only symbolically. Marie Clements casts the sisters' narrative against the backdrop of another historical injustice: the forced sterilization of thousands of Native American women in the 1970s, a practice that was only abolished in 1981. Tombs of the Vanishing Indian is a compelling, and poetic, investigation of the coldly bureaucratic machinations that have, throughout history, attempted to facilitate the disappearance of Indigenous people. Though the play focuses on specific policies and locations, it speaks eloquently to broader themes of Aboriginal displacement. There are, indeed, echoes of Canadian policy aimed at the dissolution of First Nations families and culture: the potlatch ban, residential schools and the ban on Native language, whose profoundly damaging ramifications are our shared legacy.

Tombs of the Vanishing Indian was commissioned by Native Voices, the Resident Theater Company of the Autry National Center of the American West in Los Angeles. It was performed as a a staged at the company's Playwrights Retreat And Festival Of New Plays in 2010. The play permiered in 2011 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto.

Cast: 4 women, 3 men (with doubling)

What people say:

"Tombs of the Vanishing Indian is often deeply touching, a piece of theatrical anthropology about the determined survival of a people, not its demise." — Toronto Sun

"...the question of disappearing First Nations is unavoidable." — Now Magazine

About the Playwright:

Marie Clements is an award-winning Métis/Dene performer, playwright, screenwriter, director, and producer who has worked extensively in and across a variety of mediums including theatre, performance, film, new media, radio, and television. She writes, or, perhaps more accurately, composes, with an urbane, incisive and sophisticated intellect deeply rooted in the particulars of her place, time and history.

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