Thursday, March 3, 2011


This week I was lucky enough to escape from the office and watch a run through of Tombs of The Vanishing Indian which opens on March 10th at Buddies in Bad Times. I wasn’t sure what to expect having not read the script since its workshop at Weesageechak XXI, back in 2009.

I was blown away with what I saw; under the direction of Yvette Nolan the performers on stage weaved together the tale of three sisters torn apart so beautifully that I forgot that I was sitting in a rehearsal hall surrounded by old props and costumes. Instead I was taken into their personal dioramas and shown the lives of those before us.

The topic is not an easy one. It places the audience in 1973 America, in a time when the government was still intervening “for the good of the Indian” in how we raised our young, educated ourselves and how we chose to live. During these times of involvement the government sanctioned sterilizations of Aboriginal women, relocated whole communities, and continued the removal of children from their families to “kill the Indian in the child”. All of these scenarios seem outside of the realm of possibility to many of us now, but to the 3 million plus Aboriginal people living in North America it is very real.

I am always surprised at how little Canadians know about their history. In grade 10 social studies I was made to memorize all the prime ministers of Canada but not once did they mention residential schools, or the people who were on this land long before the founding of the nation. I was an Aboriginal student who didn’t really know my own history. All I knew was the history that was part of my families’ story.

My grandparents were sent to residential school; 6 out of 10 of their children were sent to residential schools because this would help integrate them into society and make them upstanding citizens. Instead what this did was create a great disconnect from those before us. We lost our language, our rituals and our sense of belonging to this land.

Now my generation is here and we are finding our way back to some sense of belonging but these stories, like Tombs of The Vanishing Indian, are deep within our marrow. In order for healing to happen both within the community and in this country we need to share the stories and acknowledge them and grow as a group because no matter how hard we try to push past this we can’t, we can only grow with it.

The history is in us.

-Contributed by Isidra Cruz

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