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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Seattle Youth Honor Local Native Heritage
by Nicole Kidder - ColorsNW

Rainier Valley Youth Theatre (RVYT) recently wrapped its SummerSTAGE 2009 season with the Northwest premiere of Pieces of Us: How the Lost Find Home. Written by American playwright William S. Yellow Robe Jr. (Assiniboine), the all-teen cast explored modern-day issues of Native identity and mixed heritage through the eyes of Adam, a fictional member of the Coast Salish Tribe who sets out on a voyage to reclaim his heritage.

A program of SEEDArts, RVYT provides a unique summer theatre training and production experience for Seattle youth, who receive the opportunity to work with professional local artists. The program partnered with Red Eagle Soaring (RES) Native American Youth Theater, which has sought to empower Native American and Alaskan Native youth in the Pacific Northwest through the theater arts, cultural workshops and performance projects for the past 18 years. Video and multi-media projection art was also supplied by Native Lens and Longhouse Media.

"We are honored to participate in the production of Pieces of Us, contributing advice, props, and best of all, three of our student actors," says a RES spokesperson. "We are so proud of them for the fine work they have done and the commitment they have made to the project. Mr. Yellow Robe said his wish for this play was to anchor the heritage of the leading character in the community of Native people in which the play is produced, with a tribe that has had difficulty maintaining their cultural connections over the years. It is our hope that the Duwamish people and the other Coast Salish Nations around us will welcome and be honored by this effort."

Yellow Robe is a member of the Assiniboine Tribe, located on the Fort Peck Indian reservation in northeastern Montana. He has a body of work that includes 50 plays, several short stories and poetry. Grandchildren of the
Buffalo Soldiers and Other Untold Stories is a new collection of his full-length plays, published by UCLA's Project HOOP.

"Bill Yellow Robe's voice is funny, honest and searing," notes Oskar Eustis, who serves as the artistic director of the Public Theater in New York. "He tells painful truths that are designed to heal and healing truths that are hard to hear. He writes from an utterly specific Native world, one we all need to know, but he also uncovers human truths that are universal and profound. He is one of our necessary writers. We would be much poorer without him."

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