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A: Arthur Kopit Pf: 1968, London Pb: 1969 G: Hist. drama in 13 scenes S: Wild West Show and US government building, 1886 C: 36m, 4f, extrasScenes alternate between Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Show and the hearings of an Indian Commission. The Wild West Show scenes promote an apolitical championing of the frontier spirit and celebrate the heroic myths of the white settlers who make the land their own. This is contrasted with the debate in the Indian Commission, where the whites cannot understand why the Indians keep breaking their treaties, and the Native Americans cannot comprehend why these treaties are based on the possession of territory, since owning land is a totally alien concept. When Colonel Forsythe excuses a massacre of Indians with the words: ‘Of course innocent people have been killed. In war they always are,’ this is a verbatim quotation from General Westmoreland with reference to the Vietnam War 80 years later. Twice we also hear Chief Joseph in 1877 capitulating before the inflexible might of the government: ‘I am tired of fighting.…My heart is sick and sad! From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more, forever.’

A: Arthur Kopit Pf: 1968, London Pb: 1969 G: Hist. drama in 13 scenes S: Wild West Show and US government building, 1886 C: 36m, 4f, extras

After his early absurdist pieces, Kopit here turned to a more serious political investigation of the white settlers' treatment of Native Americans, initially as their protectors and then killing and exploiting them. While the acknowledgement of America's past guilt is now commonplace, Kopit's play (significantly premiered in London and not very successful in the States) was one of the first major pieces to confront the issue and to relate it to continuing genocide in South-East Asia.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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