Written by Rachel Atkins
Living Voices | 600 North 36th Street, Suite 221, Seattle WA 98103 | 206-328-0798 FAX 206-328-4626 | firstname.lastname@example.org
The experience of Native Americans in the 1930's
and 1940's. A Navajo girl explores her family's
past while struggling to keep her culture in a
government-run boarding school. Her vision of
becoming a modern healer in a changing world is
brought to life as her community joins the U.S. in
World War II.
4th Grade through
World War II
Theatre / Drama
Television - Film
Native Vision focuses on the story of
Alice Benally, a young Navajo girl who is
taken from her home and placed in a
government-run boarding school during
the 1930s, as part of a government
effort to "civilize" Native American
children into mainstream society.
Growing up, Alice and her cousin Carl
learn the stories of previous
generations and these schools. Their
grandmother was sent to Carlisle Indian
School in Pennsylvania, the first of the
off-reservation boarding schools. These
children were isolated from their
families, forced to speak only English
and to break all ties with traditional life.
Alice and Carl are sent to a boarding
school located on the Navajo
reservation, allowing them to return
home to their family in the summers.
Healing traditions have been passed
down to Alice through her family. Her
grandfather, father and uncle are all
hataali, medicine men. Her mother and
grandmother also teach Alice about
traditional healing plants and remedies.
At boarding school, Alice is put to work
in the infirmary, and later encouraged
to pursue a career as a nurse. After
high school, she attends the Sage
Memorial Hospital School of Nursing,
established exclusively for training
Native American women as nurses.
Alice strives to find a balance between
Western medicine and the Navajo
traditions of healing.
When World War II breaks out, Carl is
eager to serve, and enlists in a special
program with the Marines, who are
recruiting Navajo men from the
reservation. When Alice graduates
from nursing school, she decides to join
the Navy and is ultimately stationed at
the Naval hospital in San Diego, where
she is able to see Carl during his
training. Before shipping out to the
South Pacific, Carl reveals to Alice his
work as a Code Talker, but swears her
When the war ends, Alice returns to
the reservation with Carl, who tells her
that the work of the Code Talkers is still
classified information. Alice reflects on
all the different kinds of healing she and
her community need from their
connections to the outside world, and
what she can do to help as a healer
from both worlds.
Through Alice's experiences of fighting
to retain her culture and traditions
within unfamiliar and sometimes hostile
environments, we also hear the stories
of her family, ancestors and tribe.
These stories demonstrate the internal
and external conflicts faced by
generations of young Native Americans
and parallel the broader history of
Native American life.