I am writing this letter as an apology to people who have migrated here
from Mexico, Central America, and South America. I am Anishinabe, indigenous to what is now called Minnesota. I am also a playwright.
Within the last year I was approached by a production company, OffLeash
Area, to write a play with them called Border Crossing. It was my
understanding this play would address the inhumane issues people
confront when entering the United States.
As a Native American,
I am interested in the stories of the indigenous people of this
continent we call Turtle Island and the peoples of what is now known as
South America. I am interested in the impact the building of the wall
between Mexico and the United States has on Native Nations whose
reservations created by the United States straddle this man-made
border, also made by the United States. That is part of the story I had
hoped to tell. In November ’07, I did research for a week in the Sonora
desert southwest of Tucson on the Tohono O’odham Reservation. I had
hoped to include a very strong voice for Indigenous people in this
piece. I had hoped to include a very strong voice for Migrant people in
In my interviews with people I heard stories of inhumane treatment.
I heard stories of a sea of sorrow — a desert littered with the bones
of people trying to get here for a better future for themselves and for
their future generations. I heard stories of joy, hope, survival, and
I am writing this apology because this is not the story that is
being told in Border Crossing. It is not your story, and your voice has
been removed from the piece. I wrote dialogue for native peoples. That
dialogue was cut. I wrote dialogue for the characters crossing the
desert. That dialogue was cut. I argued to give voice to the oppressed.
My voice was silenced. I am sorry. I understand any anger on your part
where you would question why I, as a Native American, would have
thought that I could tell your story.
If you have questions or comments to me, I am open to dialogue.