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Aboriginal Arts & Stories - Notay Kiskintamowin "Wanting to Know"

Notay Kiskintamowin "Wanting to Know"

2008 - Writing Winner

DELLA-ROSE I didn’t know I was Native until about 15 years ago…I thought I was Mexican. PIXIE Mexican? You can tell you’re a neech from a mile away…why the hell would you think you were Mexican?

Read Shaneen Robinson's Notay Kiskintamowin "Wanting to Know"

Shaneen Robinson

Winnipeg, MB
Cree and Gitxsan Nations
Age 28

Author's Statement

Tansi, My name is Shaneen Robinson, I am a proud member of the Cree Nation of Northern Manitoba on my Father’s side, as well as a member of the Gitxsan Nation of Northwestern British Columbia on my Mother’s side. I have been a huge fan of Aboriginal theatre since I was a little girl, I remember being fascinated by Tompson Highway’s, Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing when I saw it in Winnipeg with my parents when I was about 9-years-old. I recently fulfilled my lifelong dream of writing a play entitled, Notay Kiskintamowin, “Wanting to Know”. In June 2008 I completed my Bachelor of Arts in Communications at the University of Winnipeg. During my final year of studies I decided to take a Playwriting course as one of my options. I wrote about a First Nations woman who was adopted as part of the Sixties Scoop. Notay Kiskintamowin is about her journey of self-discovery and the reclamation of her Indigenous identity. I used many factual situations of the Aboriginal Peoples of Turtle Island and some of the realities we have faced in our history. I tied this in with stories I’ve learned over the years from my immediate family and friends. Some of the characters and their situations are based on people who have been a part of my life and my own personal journey. I think this piece of writing was a way for me to vent frustration about the negative societal truths our people endure in a way that stayed true to the humour and perseverance of our people. I am not yet finished this play, I don’t know if I every will be. As I continue to grow as a person and as a writer, I will continue to go back and add to this story. I am so thankful for the inspiration I have in my life from people like my parents, family, friends, the artists who so kindly allowed me to incorporate their music into my play, and of course the amazing group who make Our Story possible for young Aboriginal Writers. Kininaskomitinan.

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Notay Kiskintamowin "Wanting to Know"

***Note: Adult language in this excerpt has been modified. For a copy of the original version of the play, please contact The Dominion Institute, staff@dominion.ca***

CHARACTERS

DELLA-ROSE- 40 Something adoptee who’s just written her first play.

PIXIE-Early 30s alcoholic, drug-addict who has just regained custody of her daughter.

SETTING

Greyhound bus from Winnipeg to Northern Manitoba.

ACT I

Scene 4 Greyhound Bus. Now.

VOICE OVER OF MALE BUS DRIVER

Good evening, my name is Dale and I’m your driver for this trip to Thompson…we’ll be making some pit stops in Ashern, Fairford, Grand Rapids, and Ponton. Please make yourself familiar with the emergency exits on either side of the bus…should be a relatively smooth drive except for one closed lane after St. Laurent, but that’ll only last about 15 kilometers. It’ll be about 10-12 hours depending on the weather and road conditions.

(Della-Rose moves to the chair closest to the two and starts talking to Pixie…she extends her hand.)

DELLA-ROSE

I didn’t catch your name…I’m Della-Rose Miller.

(Pixie looks at her hand for a moment…then shakes it.)

PIXIE

I’m Pixie.

DELLA-ROSE

Nice to meet you Pixie.

(Pixie nods unappreciatively and gives a sarcastic fake smile… she pulls a star blanket out of her carry on bag and covers herself and Delaynee and gives a small pillow to Delaynee. Delaynee smiles and immediately makes herself comfortable and closes her eyes.)

DELLA-ROSE

So you’re from Norway House?

PIXIE

Yep.

DELLA-ROSE

Were you just in Winnipeg for a visit?

(Pixie yawns and stretches her arms over her head much like Della-Rose had done earlier.)

PIXIE

Listen lady, I’m not really one for small talk…I just wanna sleep this hangover off okay?

DELLA-ROSE

Oh…well it’s just that I’ve never been there and I kinda wanted to learn a little about the place is all.

PIXIE

What’re you going there for?

(Pause)

DELLA-ROSE

(shrugs her shoulders)

I guess…I’m going to meet relatives.

PIXIE

Oh yeah?

DELLA-ROSE

(Slowly answers as she nods and has a slight grin)

Yeah.

PIXIE

So what clan you from?

DELLA-ROSE

Clan? What do you mean…like what tribe?

(Pixie laughs…whips her head back she laughs so hard…Della-Rose has a nervous chuckle, she’s embarrassed.)

DELLA-ROSE

Whaaaat? I don’t know…what do you mean what clan am I from?

PIXIE

I mean like who’s your family? Not what Nation…everyone from Norway House is Cree… (chuckles) like, are you a Muswagon (Muss-Wagon), an Apetagon (Appa-Tay-Gun), a Paupanekis (Pop-panna-gus)…who’s your granny?

DELLA-ROSE

Oh, I see…well…I don’t exactly know anyone from there yet…I’m just gonna kinda show up.

PIXIE

Well you have to know someone…then why the hell you going?

DELLA-ROSE

I just…I want to see where I was born…and I was told Norway House was the place.

PIXIE

Were you adopted or sumthin?

DELLA-ROSE

Yeah.

PIXIE

Where’d you grow up?

DELLA-ROSE

Guelph, Ontario.

PIXIE

Guelph Eh?…Any other Neechi’s around there?

DELLA-ROSE

Neechi’s?

(Pixie chuckles…)

PIXIE

Guess not.

DELLA-ROSE

You mean like Aboriginal people?

PIXIE

Yeah…Aboriginal people (snickers).

DELLA-ROSE

No not really…I met a couple of Mohawks when my family drove through Caledonia when I was a kid.

PIXIE

Are you serious?

DELLA-ROSE

I mean I’ve watched a lot of Indian movies and stuff…I watch APTN sometimes. “Dances with Wolves” is one of my favorite movies.

PIXIE

Mmm hmm (sarcastically).

DELLA-ROSE

I didn’t know I was Native until about 15 years ago…I thought I was Mexican.

PIXIE

Mexican? You can tell you’re a neech from a mile away…why the hell would you think you were Mexican?

DELLA-ROSE

Well I found out I was adopted and that I was born in Manitoba when I was about 13. My older sister Bonnie came to Winnipeg for a symphony performance and when she came home she said there were a whole bunch of Mexicans in Winnipeg, and that I looked like them. So I just assumed I was Mexican.

(Pixie bursts out laughing…)

PIXIE

Well trade in the tortillas for bannock baby cause you aint a Mexican yous an Indian!

(Della-Rose chuckles along with Pixie…)

PIXIE

So you were part of the Sixties Scoop eh?

DELLA-ROSE

The what?

PIXIE

Yeah I went to University for a couple of terms…

DELLA-ROSE

What’s the Sixties Scoop?

PIXIE

(Pixie waves her hand in dismissal and turns to face Della-Rose)

Girl… you gotta read up on some of your history…I wanted to major in Native Studies…but that’s a whole nother story.

PIXIE

Tons of our kids were stolen and given to white families during the 60s right through the 80s?! Some were sent to Europe, lots down south and some sent to different parts of Canada. They say about 35 thousand.

DELLA-ROSE

Really?

PIXIE

Yeah and you were one of them I guess. [expletive] deal. As if Residential Schools weren’t enough.

DELLA-ROSE

I’ve heard of Residential Schools…I’ve read a bit about it.

PIXIE

My granny’s still waitin for her settlement…they say they can’t find documentation…lost in a fire or sumthin like that. S’all [expletive] anyway.

DELLA-ROSE

My dad thought Indians made up the whole idea…

PIXIE

Typical.

DELLA-ROSE

It didn’t sit well with me either…I had to find out for myself. I’m still learning.

PIXIE

It just pisses me off you know…that’s like saying the Holocaust didn’t happen for [expletive] sakes. Like all that cash is gonna solve our problems. It’s like hush money.

DELLA-ROSE

Do you think it was really as bad as they say?

PIXIE

Worse…my Granny’s told me some of the horror stories.

(Pause…Pixie digs into her bag and pulls out a Mickey of Canadian Club Whiskey…opens it and takes a swig…offers it to Della-Rose and she shakes her head no.)

PIXIE

Like my uncle Smokey…man that dude shook it rough. He was only four when him and my uncle Morris were taken from Norway House and sent down south to Brandon. He had a really bad stutter and the Priest and Nuns would always pick on him. He was beaten so badly one time he was in the hospital for a month. They had to remove his spleen and put pins in his arm.

(Lights fade until only one light is on Della-Rose… she walks toward the audience once again and starts speaking directly to them.)

DELLA-ROSE

She went on to say how he was raped so viciously on the regular basis as a child that as an adult he couldn’t control his bowl movements.

(Pause… Della-Rose sits cross legged on the floor looks up and continues addressing the audience.)

DELLA-ROSE (continues…)

He decided to enlist in the army in his late teens. He apparently ended up being one of the most decorated Canadian soldiers in history. She said when he returned, he couldn’t go back to Norway House because he lost his treaty status.

(Della-Rose stands up and begins walking back to her place on the bus… half way down the aisle she turns around as lights on stage right come up. Original music by Kent Walker fades up and we see a man wearing a dark hooded sweater, you cannot see his face…he staggers and sits cross-legged on the ground as Della-Rose and the audience watches him…he rolls up his left sleeve and ties a belt around his arm…he has a needle and is putting it in his arm as the lights fade…then Della-Rose finishes speaking to the audience.)

(This Song is played over the above action)

(:25 – Lyrics~ Look around you, how many lives have gone to waste…people trying to keep the shade in their face. Time to put the pieces back in their place…realize that escape. Will I be forgotten when I’m gone? Will I be left alone? Fades down…ends 1:15 Total :50 seconds.)

(she begins speaking again once the music fades)

DELLA-ROSE

He spent half his life in and out of prison, most of the time because he beat the [expletive] out of his girlfriends. Pixie says he died on the streets of Vancouver…he sold his medals of honour to buy heroin.

(The song “500 Hundred Years O’ Blues” by Digging Roots fades up…as Della-Rose turns around and continues walking…~Lyrics “Five-Hundred years and my people are almost gone…try to find the answers…are they all buried in the ground…five hundred years that shadows been around for so long, for so long.)

(song continues over the below action too)

(Lights come back up to show Pixie sleeping with her arm around Delaynee who is using Pixie’s thigh as a pillow…Della-Rose gets in her seat looks at Pixie and Delaynee for a moment and then uses her big hand bag as a pillow and unfolds her big scarf that’s wrapped around her neck and covers herself with it. Lights dim for a moment…music fades at :43 seconds in the darkness, then a Voice Over.)

VOICE OF BUS DRIVER

We’re in Ashern…there will be a 45 minute break here to accommodate people getting on and off at this stop. They have coffee, pop, sandwiches and baked goods if you’re interested. Thank-you.

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