Myth and Symbol



It would be short-sighted to presume The Ecstasy of Rita Joe a somewhat dogmatic condemnation of English Canada\'s - indeed, all of Canada\'s - neglect of Native culture. What George Ryga likely intended was more a universal pronouncement of guilt on the government\'s part with regard to all issues of morality, whether unrecognised or, if you will forgive my coyness, unintended. At the play\'s most fundamental level, however, there can be no doubt as to Ryga\'s dissatisfaction with the government\'s injurious and indelicate treatment of Native affairs, and the subsequent effect such inactions provoke in the scattered Native communities.
The government is not the lone culprit, Ryga would likely argue; whether non-Native reluctance to accept Native culture as distinct within Canada is the result of government promulgation remains to be determined (it is likely a xenophobic reaction perpetuated at the various levels of government by the individual members themselves who, as representatives of their communities, reflect that community\'s inherent prejudice). Especially curious with regard to this matter are what Ryga referred to, quite baldly, as the "murderers".
In the first instance, they appear to represent the government vise as it bureaucratically squeezes the life out of nonconformists, and then the anvil, upon which the deformed constituency is reshaped and redefined. These sentiments reverberate throughout the opening pages:

Category: English