‘Three Sisters’ staged reading to highlight Tunica-Biloxi tribe

The Tunica-Biloxi reservation is the set of a play highlighting family connection and heritage.
Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 7:53 PM CDT
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MARKSVILLE, La. (KALB) - The Tunica-Biloxi Reservation is the set of a play highlighting family connection and heritage.

Written by playwright and Tunica-Biloxi descendant Carolyn Dunn, ‘Three Sisters’ tells the story of three, estranged sisters who return home to the reservation at their dying aunt’s request. According to the play’s description, it covers “family tensions, simmering secrets, death and grieving all intersect with loss of tradition, culture, spiritual formation and love.”

“The play is really about how families grow apart but then come back together,” said Dunn.

At the center of that idea is the concept of reconnecting, which Dunn experienced first-hand in penning the play manuscript.

“You have these ideas. You have these feelings. You have these memories, that may not belong to you, but they’ve been created in us, through the stories, through that blood memory, through that longing for a place,” said Dunn. “And I’ve always longed for this place.”

For Dunn, the storied history of her Tunica-Biloxi ancestry was left much to her imagination. She spent years writing and learning about her other Native American roots, like Creek and Choctaw. However, being a second-generation Californian, the reality of her Tunica-Biloxi heritage was not as tangible.

“There’s this concept in native literature called blood memory, and it’s the memory of someplace that you may have never been to but it’s where your ancestors are from,” explained Dunn. “And so I really called upon that.”

That longing brought her to develop the script for the Oklahoma Indigenous Theatre Company, and it brought her to Marksville, the ground in which her Tunica-Biloxi roots are planted, for the first time to host staged readings of the production.

“Finally being here has been so powerful because I drive down the road and I see all the family names, all the place names, the places that have just existed in my imagination for the longest time,” said Dunn. “I just feel so connected, once again, to my family.”

The staged reading is just one step in Dunn’s revision process to eventually create the full production with the University of Western Montana by Spring 2024. It is a production Dunn hopes will bring the Tunica-Biloxi stories to life, honor her loved ones’ heritage and educate other tribes on Louisiana’s unique Native American culture.

Performances are sponsored by Tunica-Biloxi, in collaboration with the Oklahoma Indigenous Theatre Company, in the Paragon Casino Resort Ballroom on Friday, March 24, and Saturday, March 25, at 7 p.m. Several local Tunica-Biloxi Tribe descendants will be reading, and the play is directed by Sarah dAngelo.

The performances are free and open to the public. For additional ticketing information, contact Paulette Voiselle at pvoiselle@tunica.org or (318) 240-6400.

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