Footpaths & Bridges: Voices from the Native American Women Playwrights Archive

Nov 15th, 2009 | By | Category: 21-2: K-12 Education, Winter 2009, Media Reviews
Review by Gretchen Healy

Footpaths & Bridges: Voices from the Native American Women Playwrights ArchiveIn Footpaths & Bridges, editors Shirley A. Huston-Findley and Rebecca Howard do an excellent job of bringing attention to dynamic Native American dramatists. These playwrights represent various tribes, techniques, crafts, and themes but focus specifically on Indian women – their personal stories, their relationships, and their identities.

The mission of the Native American Women Playwrights Archive is to “identify playwrights in North and South America; collect, preserve, and make their work more widely known; encourage performances and continued creativity; and help educate playwrights, theater companies, and audiences about Native American theater.”

In this collection, they have been true to their mission. An online directory ( nawpa) provides an accessible interface for anyone seeking additional information about works by Native American women.

This anthology includes plays by Monique Mojica (Kuna/Rappahannock), Jules Arita Koostachin (Attawapiskat Band of the Cree), Marcie Rendon (White Earth Anishinabe), Marie Clements (Metis), Martha Kreipe de Montano (Prairie Band Potawatomi), Denise Mosley (Cherokee), Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl (Hawai’ian/ Samoan), Vera Manuel (Shuswap/ Kootenai), and Judy Lee Oliva (descendant of Chickasaw Tribe).

It is always difficult to get the full effect of a drama by simply reading it. It is an auditory and visual medium; still, with good staging, the dramas are powerful. The stage directions are easy to visualize, and the characters are described well, so imagination serves to follow the action readily.

Academically, this book would serve well as a text for a course in Native American drama, a supplemental text for Native American literature course, as enrichment for any course that needs a Native perspective, or as a library resource.

Gretchen Healy retired as library director at Little Priest Tribal College in September 2008. She held that position since the college opened in 1998; prior to that, she worked as director of the library for Nebraska Indian Community College.

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