12th January 2013
Quote reblogged from Fuck Yeah World of Taika with 8 notes
The fact that we’re here, that we’re even on earth in the first place, I think that’s success in itself. So, congratulations everyone on being here…
3rd January 2013
Post with 1 note
Well. the show must go on, I suppose.
I am really disappointed that the Des Moines Elementary PTSA has chosen to maintain “Natives” roles in their Peter Pan afterschool Drama Club. Even my 11 year old daughter recognized the racism in Peter Pan without knowing the historical context of what was happening to Native Americans when the book was written in 1904 in England. It was my daughter who initiated this effort to modify the Peter Pan script to be more respectful and openly shared her concerns with a receptive and understanding Des Moines Elementary school Principal Jenniffer Reinig. Instead of replacing the “Indians” with non-ethnic characters (in line with mythical characters and creatures of Neverland) as had been suggested and would have likely been a very simple fix, the Des Moines Elementary PTSA and Drama Club decided, as they describe it, to ’authenticate’ the “Native” roles (see below).
Thank you to Fern Renville, Managing Director of Red Eagle Soaring Native Youth Theatre, for providing an historical context and Native American perspective on Peter Pan below. Fern’s message much more eloquently articulates Kim’s and my concerns that we began communicating on November 15 with links to resources specifically about the portrayal of Native Americans in Peter Pan, Native girls/women in Hollywood, and Native Americans in Hollywood in general.
“Hello Ruth and Mel,
My apologies for my delay in response, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in Christmas. Happy New Year to you both!
Simply costuming Peter Pan’s Indians more authentically does not address the depiction of Indians in Peter Pan as belonging to a mythical category alongside fairies, pirates, and mermaids - a point that none of the contemporary Native Americans casually polled for their opinions on this matter felt positively about (please listen to the attached voice recording of one such response from a young Native man attesting to how this depiction made him feel). Peter Pan was written in 1904, at a time when Indians were conveniently seen as a “vanishing race” and the federal government was actively working to assimilate Natives via forcible education in government Indian boarding schools (“kill the Indian to save the man”). Perhaps placing Natives in a fantasy setting called Neverland as magical creatures akin to mermaids and fairies was a reflection of popular discomfort with instead seeing us as flesh and blood victims of a recent ethnic cleansing. Imagine replacing the Indians with another ethnic group - say Jews or Chinamen… would costuming Jews or Chinamen authentically make their depiction any less offensive? Costuming an imaginary Indian named Tiger Lily realistically in a cedar dress would not be educating your audience about the real Co-Salish people still living around Puget Sound. Replacing the Indians altogether with something like talking animals and engaging your youth in a critical discussion about evolving attitudes towards Native Americans and about theatre’s history as a reflection of popular mores and ideas would teach your theatre participants and audience a great deal. This is a beautifully teachable moment in which you can choose not to participate in an outdated and demeaning depiction of Indians; I respectfully urge you to do so.
Good luck! I look forward to your final production. :)
Below are the changes to the script they are using that the Des Moines Elementary PTSA and Drama Club have decided to implement:
2.) Use of Bodhran Celtic drum to emulate native drum sounds heard in the music (explain to the kids that the drum is very similar to what the Chippewa use in their ceremonies and that the Kelts are the native people of Ireland)
5.) Michael’s character will wear moccasin’s and pants with loin cloth, we will omit feather and headband
6.) Based on research and the opinion of the Chippewa representative, The term “Indians” will be left in place.
7.) On page 15 [of script], the dance, chants and drums will simulate the activities mentioned in 1 & 2
8.) “Tomahawk” will be replaced by “Spear” or “Bow and Arrow” as the Chippewa are plains people and this is consistent with our research
Now, as excited as she was to get one of the “Wendy” parts, Kim and I will need to have a serious discussion and decide whether she will participate in the Drama Club. I really saw this as an awesome opportunity with history making potential with obvious efforts to create safe and culturally responsive environments for Highline students and families. My daughter innocently and genuinely thought this was an easy change stemming from common sense. She doesn’t understand why ‘they don’t get it.’ A rite of passage to the world of social change, I suppose…
Melissa Ponder, Parent
Des Moines Elementary School