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

Aug 8, 2018

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.

During a recent rehearsal Amanda (played by Ashley Stovin, left) has her daughter Julia (played by Riley Stovin, right) taken away from her. An Army soldier, Augustus (played by Cameron Hunt) looks on.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

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

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

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.”

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.
Credit Brian Bull / KLCC

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.