Tombs of the Vanishing Indian

Written by:

Marie Clements

Artist/Creator(s) Identify As:


Cast Size:

Roles For:

  • Men: 3
  • Women: 4


Indigenous Theatre



Year Written:



“In Tombs of the Vanishing Indian, Three Young Native American sisters and their mother board a bus bound for Los Angeles, leaving home as part of a 1950s government mandate to relocate reserve Indians to urban centres. This assimilationist policy was one focus of Metis playwright Marie Clements’s research when she was commissioned to create a new play for the tenth anniversary of the Native Voices series at the Autry National Center, Los Angeles. Clements dramatizes the emotional, psychological and social repercussions of this and subsequent bureaucratic incursions into the girls’ lives. Their arrival in California takes a tragic turn when their mother is suddenly killed and the girls are arbitrarily placed in different foster homes, never to see each other again.” (From Talonbooks)


THE WOMEN: Jessie – A striking woman, smart and capable but bound. Indian, age twenty-seven / Miranda – A beautful Hollywood star-wannabe. Naive but tough-minded and strong-willed. Indian, age twenty-five / Janey – A young, delicately beautiful street woman. Fragile but tough. Indian, age twenty-one / The Mother – Also plays The Lone Woman, fifty-five-year-old Gabrielino woman from the 1800s; Ruth, Jewish-Indian, age forty-five; and Sarah, an Indian, age eighteen.

THE BLACKCOATS: DR. Daniel Hansen – Jessie’s older doctor husband. Good looking and logical, in control of his room. White, age thirty-nine. Also plays Blackcoat Three / Bob Stills – A very stereotypical Hollywood director. Once considered golden, he has seen better days. White, age forty-five . Also plays Blackcoat Two and White Intern One / Detective Fullen – A detective who is quirky but intelligent and compassionate. White, age forty-seven. Also plays Blackcoat One and White Intern Two.

First Produced:

2011, Native Earth Performing Arts and Red Diva Projects with Buddies in Bad Times Theatre


Tombs of the Vanishing Indian is available through Talonbooks.

To view other works by this playwright, click here.


For more information about Native Voices, see the Autry Museum of the American West website.