Francine BlythePan–Indian musings kicked up dust not only in the politics but in the arts, also. In 1973 the incident at Ogallala between American Indian move activists and the FBI brought to the attention of American citizens the plight and degradation of Indians in a negative light. Socially, Native Americans were plagued with poverty, disease, and genocide. The issues of the American Indian were serious problems for tribes and the United States government and media did not help. Television coverage perpetuated a hostile uniformed and insensitive attitude towards Native Americans. Therefore some of the images developed form the coverage was that Indians were subhuman. Indians were drunks and Indians were beggars.

At that time, some archivists tried to preserve what was left of what they considered Indian culture before it became extinct but their intentions created only the romantic Indian. The icon of the Indian princess, the stoic chief, the noble warrior in his traditional attire. All these images have not been accurate or much appreciated by Indian people. But America's Film industry and their depiction of Native Americans have done the most harm. For decades, American Indians have been portrayed in films and on television in a manner entirely derogatory to our culture and mental well-being.

Who on this earth can enjoy seeing themselves and their race depicted as fiendish savages and murderers who hurl forth blood curdling yelps and seemingly their only form of vocal communication is, "Mmm… Hau." It is thought that this unabated corrupt use of American Indians by the American film makers has been a major contribution, contributing to the deepening cultural and spiritual malice of American Indians. Still many non-Indians seem to give Native American culture an honorable burial under museum glass. Despite dirges over the vanishing American Indian, we were not only failing to vanish, but actually begin to adapt to change and to evolve new modalities, a sure sign that we were not ready for it's tension.

The idea is apparent that everything traditional need not and should not be discarded and that the new and original forms could emerge from our traditions. Many Indians realize that with show dancing and historical pageants designed for the entertainment of non-Indians need not be the only concept of Native American performances.

Through a process of assimilation and relocation acts, the Indian culture was being brought to the melting pot and this type of elimination must be stopped. So Native American performing artists began a series of realistic Indian plays written by Indians addressing Indian issues and intended for a primarily Indian audience.

For too long, Indian groups had tended to keep to ourselves with little exchange of ideas. Desire for communication among ourselves and a willingness to open up Dialogue with non-Indian communities stimulated among other things the development of a number of Indian theatre groups throughout the country, mostly in large cities.

In 1972 formed as the American Indian theatre Ensemble Company, was America's first and only Indian repertory company. The central aim of the ensemble's work was to present plays for and about Indian people. Plays that were political, propagandistic, cultural, comic, traditional, educational, and entertaining, to wherever Indian people were located. The American Indian theatre ensemble company wanted to eradicate decades of whitewashed and superficial expectations form the public's mind. And even from the minds of Indians who had some accepted the romantic stereotyping.

Today Native American theatre companies and groups seemingly share a common mission; and that is to the approach of survival in the future rather than reproach for the past. Function is the component of the overall movement to achieve true equality and self-determination and to present and preserve our cultural existence. As an inroad toward corroding the vulgar images of the American Indian, the American Indian theatre ensemble company believes that plays for and about Indians, their past, their despairing presence, their hopes and dreams and daily lives, presented by Indian artists could be of inestimable value in uniting and uplifting the Indian people in the United States. Our ceremonial rituals we as indigenous peoples have practiced for centuries are uncontestable testimony to how strongly we respond to theatre for these ceremonies of song, dance, story and music are theatre in its most purest and functional form. All material performed in Native American theater is for the purpose of educating the native and non-native audiences.

Prior to the American Indian theatre ensemble company there were many plays on the American stage about Indian life and or in which Indian characters were little more than dramatic machinery for boisterous masquerade, melancholy rumination, or facial depiction, again, of the noble savage. Novelists and poets perpetuated the stereotypes that already appeared in drama whole eastern journalism and the Penny Dreadfuls of frontier life emphasized the image of the bloodthirsty, crazed aboriginal. These stereotypes were staple fare in films at least up until the 1960s.

Later, even more responsible works such as Little Big Man and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest struck some wrong notes. First, their authors were not Indians and lacked the Indian voice, and second the directors were no so much interested in depicting real Indians as in using Indians as a pathetic super numeraries to rub the face of America in its own guilt. Thus, the stage seemed to offer to the American Indians other means of self-realization through the presentation of our truth and nature. Some of the pioneers of contemporary Native American theatre felt that Indians who did not understand or participate in traditional ceremonies might also find in theatre a new respect for ritual and form. This new theatre would mean acceptable outgrowth through religious heritage of the American Indians race.

In the beginning, most frequently traditional tales were dramatized for the stage. As a legacy from the past, contemporary Native American theatre encompassed traditional music and or dancing. One play exemplifies this outgrowth of religious heritage titled Nahaza by Robert Shortie. Robert wanted to devise something moving, colorful and flowing. By consulting with Indian sources, he decided to dramatize the Navajo creation myth. A review of the play has described his achievement: The experience and transformation the spectator undergoes is difficult to describe for the impact is more than the sum of any single part of this ritualized vision. The nobility and simplicity of the theology astounded me. Much of the power of the experience came from the deep lamenting that we as other Americans in this country have no single story or religious philosophy as a collective people that comes close to touching the splendor and dignity of Nahaza. A moving and tender utterance in the simplest of language and movement.

In the past thirty years contemporary Native American theatre has strengthened the badly weakened sense of tribe and helped Indians define their own identities by encouraging self esteem and accurately reflecting our modern lives by instilling such traits in Native American theatre as hiring a Native American dramatist with knowledge of his ethnic identity. He must know who he is and who the people are for whom he is writing. He must have experienced the multi-faceted life of an American Indian preferably at our grassroots and have known the frustrations, sorrows, joys and satisfactions that ordinary Indian people live and know. He cannot afford to have led a sheltered life, especially in a non-Indian setting. He must know instinctively and from experience what protocols must be observed, what customs respected what limits observed and what sacred ornaments may fittingly be scorned or taunted. On the other hand, he cannot shun contact with the non-Indian world. He must write Dialogue untainted by artificial stiffness and anachronistic poeticisms of vice that often afflict much of what passes for the Indian voice and of course have talent.

The task of separating things into categories in Native American theatre is a difficult one because storylines carry several cultural elements that cultural awareness seems to re surface as the distinctive theme of Native American theatre. Under the suspicious theme, cultural awareness, elements of the traditional past in modern day life are portrayed in our plays. One is the element is the presence of a trickster. Tricksters reveal something about our culture from which they arose and which they continue to be perpetuated. These multifaceted characters have been and continue to be sources of entertainment, agents of social change and mirrors of religious convictions for their audiences.

Native American dramatists do not always follow a linear sequence of time and present a sense of surrealism in performance. Many critics, including some of the most experienced fail to fully understand this, if at all, how much the work of an Indian playwright and actors manifests those same features that distinguish their traditional dramatic events. Such as the lack of a clear boundary between audience and performer and the focus of a timeless moment in the center. Critics are often unable to either comprehend or interpret what they are presented. But Indian audiences understand it.

Native American theater is used a tool for communication between tribes and preservations of our culture. It works at rectifying the negative image of native people. Contemporary Native American theatre continues to include elements of tradition by incorporating music, dance, myth, ritual and stories. Native American theatre is considered authentic by the writing of a dramatist with ethnic identity in the tone of his writings to his culture and has not led a sheltered life in a non-Indian setting. Thank You.