Week 6: Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots

Mural in Tlaxacala. This image is also on the cover of Prof. Ybarra's book Performing Conquest
Mural in Tlaxacala. This image is also on the cover of Prof. Ybarra’s book Performing Conquest: Five Centuries of Theater, History and Identity in Tlaxacala Mexico. 

6 thoughts on “Week 6: Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots

  1. I have begun to think about satire’s role in this. There are parts that are satirical, referencing Pocahontas, etc. And then there are parts that feel more “authentic” to me. When I read the satire, I think “oh this is totally incorrect; I shouldn’t listen to this writing.” But then when I read the other parts, I find myself still wondering…is this authentic? Because there is recognizable tropes in the nature-focused language of Matoaka, for example.

    And then the experiences of the play go in so many different directions, including rat torture…I am thinking of her burial mounds piece and this one and I hear her line at the end, “I don’t want to be mistaken for a crowd of Native women. I am one. And I do not represent all Native women. I am one.” (59) but that feels like the opposite of what’s happening. She’s played a dozen characters, all different facets and angles of a Native women, it seems. And perhaps in a gesture saying “this is what we aren’t, and this is what we are.” But it all seems like a blur to me, and now she says she is only herself. So I find myself asking…Monique, what are you saying? What do you want to show? What question are you asking of us? What am I walking away with?

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  2. I find myself ruminating on the one of the final lines of the piece: a nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women lay on the ground. I found myself, not only ever reflecting on this line in relation to the stories shared in the piece, but how the line is relevant in other classical and contemporary texts. For example, I am working on a monologue for speech class from Henry V in which he is threatening the lord of the French city Harflour with utter dominatIon in the event that he does not concede the city to the invading British forces. One of the center points the “heroic”, “much loved”, and “best” King is the threat of raping and murdering the daughters and wives of the town. I think too of the recent film “Beasts of No Nation” in which a dramatic extended shot shows a mother being raped and murdered. This shot comes at the turning point in consciousness for the main character (a young boy turned soldier). While he is not giving up his morality in this moment, he is, for the first time, witnessing and realizing the horrors and utter damnation that war reaps on a land. Horror and damnation are the true conquerors of this land as they nullify the nation and validate the title of the film.

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  3. It’s always a bit jarring to me when liturgical texts (like the Apostles Creed in this instance) are written into plays…probably because I spent my K-12 years hearing these texts every Wednesday during all-school mass, so to hear them outside of the Church is just strange to my ear. My attention was also caught by the role of Deity/Woman of the Puna/Virgin. Her character description was very interesting (as were all of the other descriptions), specifically the description of Woman of the Puna. Her monologue stuck with me more than anything else and made me wonder what it would be like to live with only women. I also looked up “puna” and learned that this grassland is becoming rapidly depleted because of human activity – so I was intrigued why the playwright picked this location for the sisters to reside in. ALSO – I didn’t realize until about half way through that only two people play all these roles. Crazy! Very cool.

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  4. I found “Princess Pocahontas and the Blue Spots” to be a very interesting and enlightening read. Although, I am still a little confused as to what “the blue spots” refers to; Mojica elaborates on page 20 with, “[she] checks for the blue spot at the base of my spine – the sign of Indian blood.” Small thing, but would be curious to know more about this. I found the examination of womanhood in this play to be very interesting. As shown, native women are treated as both sexualized objects, to be traded and discarded, exoticized and fantasized, while at the same time are stripped of their femininity and “woman-ness” in the face of white counterparts. Most notable to me is the foil between Madelaine, the women who is “turned off” from her 10-year marriage, following the arrival of a new, white European counterpart, and the “Cigar Store Squaw,” who is presented as a commercialized, sexual and submissive prop. This play takes the dichotomy of native women’s viewed femininity further, presenting characters like “Lady Rebecca” and “Margaret,” women who were taken from their homes and stripped of their identities, down to their names. Perhaps this point is best summarized in my favorite line of the play: “[Diane Burns] says, ‘This ain’t no stoic look, this is my face.’” (59)

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  5. As a Black Women of color I often try to figure out exactly where my life and my experiences intersect with other women of color. I think most black women well myself, tend to forget that Native Women have historically and presently have been replaced, removed, and underrepresented. I guess the only real thought I have is… How do we as women and as humans, bring these similarities historically and understand our struggle and fight together with other women of color as well. The race of the Women has always been looked down upon no matter skin color or culture. So why not embrace. We should learn to love.

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  6. How do you conquer a people? The subjugated women in Princess Pocahontas demonstrate how breaking spirits aids in breaking culture. The last scene of 1984 comes to mind. Instead of outright killing Winston, Big Brother brainwashes him because the Party knows that true victory lies in having power over the mind and spirit, not the body. The sexual exploiting, objectifying, and suppressing Native American women, is tantamount raping and destroying a whole culture. As the Party does in Big Brother, oppressive forces wreak havoc on sound female Native American minds and hearts. In Transformation 9, Margaret explains how the foreign women washed her and took apart her braids. “They say the company men will not like the way I smell.” The women literally scrub off her grease and culture to prepare her to please men who don’t understand her way of life…

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