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A Note From the Playwright: Madeline Sayet

Playwright Madeline Sayet

Photo of Madeline Sayet by Bret Hartman.

In Mohegan culture, we have a symbol, the Trail of Life, that depicts the ups and downs of life, and the people you meet along the way. This symbol is embedded in much of the design of Where We Belong, because what you are about to encounter is a journey along the trail, no more no less. I hope that you embrace this story as a journey. That is what it is for me, as I learn different things about myself, my ancestors, and the world around me, each time it’s traversed. I don’t want listeners to worry about the history they may not know, or try to absorb all of the information, but rather to just let whatever resonates resonate, and hopefully to laugh a little. It’s not intended for you to remember everything. It would be too much, given how little most people are taught about Native nations. 

My hope is rather that you will dig into the questions that come up for me, and how they may relate to your own life. You see, this was never meant to be a play. I wrote it in 2018, to try to figure out some things about the lines drawn between people, and to piece myself back together. Since then, it keeps evolving, as the world around us continues to move. This play is like the river. The sky. The earth. It holds the stories that came before but also those of this moment, which is ever-changing. 

If after listening, you want to know more about some of the ancestors who come up along my journey, I will name some of them here — Uncas. Mahomet Weyonomon. Samson Occom. Fidelia Fielding. Gladys Tantaquidgeon. 

And please remember: this is only one Mohegan story. Only my story. Achokayis’ story. And even beyond that — only a part of my story. A small and finite thing in the spectrum of our world. I am from a Native nation on the opposite side of the continent, with different experiences than the Native nations here. The performer you are watching is from another Native nation, with other complex experiences. 

Here, in the Portland metropolitan area, we are on the lands of the Multnomah, Wasco, Cowlitz, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Chinook, Tualatin, Kalapuya, Molalla, and more. These nations have their own struggles, history, language, and creativity that I hope you leave wanting to learn more about. I feel so lucky to be performing this show today in a city with such a vibrant community of Native artists.

Kutápatôtamawush to the incredible team of performers, artists, producers, crew, staff, and family that have made sharing this story with you possible. Something I could never have imagined as a kid. I hope coming along and sitting in my mind for a while, might help you see the world a bit differently. And for every Indigenous person in the audience, know that your story is powerful and has as much right or more to be told on this stage.

Portland Center Stage is committed to identifying & interrupting instances of racism & all forms of oppression, through the principles of inclusion, diversity, equity, & accessibility (IDEA).

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