Preview: Sliver of a Full Moon

On March 31, Cherokee playwright Mary Kathryn Nagle, in collaboration with Yale Native students and faculty, will host a staged reading of Sliver of a Full Moon. The play documents the grassroots movement that led to the 2013 Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which included a new provision that allows tribes to prosecute non-Native offenders who commit certain assault crimes. The survivors who testified in front of Congress were interviewed for this play and their stories were transcribed as a part of the narrative. Dianne Millich (Southern Ute), Lisa Brunner (White Earth Ojibwe), and Billie Jo Rich (Eastern Band Cherokee) will reprise their roles to tell their stories once again, accompanied by a full cast of professional and undergraduate Native actors to tell this impactful story. This production will mark the two-year anniversary of the passage of the VAWA Reauthorization by bringing an underrepresented narrative to the stage.

Sliver of a Full Moon explores how limits on Indian sovereignty have affected tribal nations for generations using the stories of a tribal police officer, a tribal judge, survivors of domestic violence, senators, and congressmen and women. Harnessing the voices of those affected by VAWA, the narrative issues a powerful dialogue about the political status of tribal nations and underscores the importance of sovereignty in eradicating violence against Native women. But Nagle’s piece is not a static entity: it was recently revised to better represent the exclusion of Alaska Native tribes within VAWA’s reauthorization. The play ultimately questions how we can restore full jurisdiction to tribal nations and ensure safety for all Native women.

The play incorporates stories of survivors in order to deconstruct post-colonial rape culture in Indian Country. The upcoming performance is especially significant as it is the play’s debut on a college campus, and it aims to educate future leaders about the political status and livelihood of Native American communities.

The Honorable William Fletcher of the Ninth Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals will provide introductory remarks while Tulalip Tribes Vice-Chairwoman, Deborah Parker and Eastern Band Cherokee Indians Chairwoman, Terri Henry will speak at the end of the evening on VAWA’s impact and the work that still needs to be done. In the words of Lisa Brunner, the 2013 Reauthorization is “a sliver of a full moon of what’s needed to really protect us.”

Sliver of a Full Moon is hosted by the Yale Native American Law Students Association, the Yale Group for the Study of Native America, and the Yale Native American Cultural Center.

The performance is in the Levinson Auditorium of the Yale Law School at 6:30pm on March 31st. Doors open at 6pm. This event is free and open to the public.

by Reed Bobroff