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Play About Oregon's "Trail Of Tears" Revisits Dark Chapter Of History

Brian Bull

Many people are familiar with the forced relocation of Cherokee Indians in the 1830s, which led to the deaths of over 4,000 people. Now a play about Oregon’s own “Trail of Tears” opens Thursday night in Salem. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports.

Soldier: “That your squaw? The blind one?”

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Army soldier Augustus (played by Cameron Hunt, standing) confronts Royal Bensell (played by Alex Foufos, seated) during a rehearsal for Amanda Transcending.

A.P. Du-Cuys: “That’s my woman.” [FADE UNDER]

Several forced marches took place along the Oregon Coast in the 1860s. Thousands of Indians were moved far from their homelands. Among them was a Coos woman named Amanda De-Cuys. An Army officer wrote that the rocks tore her feet so horribly, it was easy to track her by the bloodied trail.

Now a play by Connie Bennett titled “Amanda Transcending” shares that dark history. Theatre 33 director Rod Cebellos says art connects people to events in ways historic records cannot.

“Theater I think opens the possibility up of looking for settling of the past, and understanding and moving forward, in the future.”

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Director Rod Cebellos (right) discusses a scene with actors Ashley and Riley Stovin (left), who play Amanda and Julia De-Cuys in Theatre 33's production of Amanda Transcending, by Connie Bennett.

The role of Amanda De-Cuys is played by Ashley Stovin, of Choctaw and Yakima heritage. She says practically every tribe has its tragic story from the colonization era.

“The suffering and the battles on so many different levels," Stovin tells KLCC. "Definitely people have the same kind of sad struggles that they had to go through and endure.”

The play runs through Sunday.

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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