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Plays & Legends

After five years at Inkameep School, Anthony Walsh and the children began producing plays that incorporated Okanagan stories and legends. Walsh urged students to tell stories "from home" at school, and after some initial hesitation they complied with great enthusiasm. The students eventually wrote and performed two plays based on Okanagan stories: "Why the Ant's Waist is so Small" and "Why the Chipmunk's Coat is Striped." The plays were performed locally, and later in Vancouver and Victoria. Archival records reveal invitations to perform across Canada, including one from the Department of Indian Affairs in Washington, DC.

Drawings from this period (1936-42) document rehearsals and plays, rather than imagined situations and stories. The Butterfly Dance drawing was created by one of a group of girls who choreographed an actual dance: the group worked on the dance in secret and then presented it to their teacher as a surprise.

The drawings document living processes-preparing for and performing plays. It is often unclear which legends or tales are the focus of the performance. It is interesting to note that many drawings in the Nk'Mip collection have similar configurations of bodies (animals' and children's), suggesting that the children were drawing actual events. Students depicted dances that they choreographed and performed, rehearsals outside the schoolhouse, and modern and traditional accounts of Okanagan legends.

Related Video Clips
Video Clip 19 Jane Stelkia speaks about the start of the plays at the Inkameep Day School
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Related Audio Clips
audio iconAnthony Walsh speaking about the start of the plays