March 06, 2007

Opera opens in Omaha

Opera explores Indian rightsAn opera about an American Indian family premieres in Omaha tonight, with additional performances on Friday and Sunday.

"Wakonda's Dream," with music by Anthony Davis and libretto by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, tells the story of a mother, Delores; a father, Justin; and their son, Jason, underpinned by the dislocation of the Ponca Indians and the landmark civil-rights trial of Chief Standing Bear in 1879.

In the trial, Judge Elmer Dundy ruled in favor of Standing Bear, writing that Native Americans' status as people "cannot be open to serious doubt. (Standing Bear's attorney John) Webster describes a person as 'a living human being ... an individual of the human race.' This is comprehensive enough, it would seem, to include even an Indian."

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