Native American theater movement grows with help from Angelenos

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D’Arcy Carden and Katie Finneran perform in a scene from the Broadway production of Larissa FastHorse’s “The Thanksgiving Play.” Photo by Joan Marcus.

Sichangu Lakota Nation member Larissa FastHorse is the first Native American woman to have a play on Broadway with her “The Thanksgiving Play.” She’s also only the second Native American playwright produced on Broadway since the early 20th century, something she notes “cannot happen again.”

“One of the things about being an Indigenous person is you're never just you, you're always part of ‘we.’ And that's something I take incredibly seriously and is with me every single day with everything I do. I'm part of ‘we,’” says FastHorse. “It's important to bring community with me everywhere I go. I take that very seriously, it's a huge responsibility.”

And in Los Angeles at the Autry Museum, DeLanna Studi, a member of the Cherokee Nation, has taken the helm of Native Voices to bring Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and First Nations playwrights’ work to the stage.

“There are a lot of people in what is now called ‘America’ that have been displaced, that have been assimilated, that have been told to learn English and disregard their culture and their language,” Studi says of her play about walking the Trail of Tears with her father titled “And So We Walked.” 

She continues, “My father is a boarding school survivor and he had his Cherokee literally beaten out of him, and he still retained his culture and his identity and was able to rear Cherokee children. It resonates with so many different folks.”




Luis Alfaro