A Clash of Cultures and the Promise of Rebirth: Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing and The Rez Sisters
Throughout "The Rez Sisters" and "Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing", Tomson
Highway expresses his concern regarding the cultural conflict experienced by aboriginals on the reserve. He does this by demonstrating the juxtaposition of cultural and ethereal values faced by Native and White Canadians. Christian priests attempted to eradicate and demonize Native spirituality and force their own beliefs upon indigenous people and the negative aftereffect of cultural contention that is experienced is dramatized through the lives of the men and women who create the Native community of Wasaychigan Hill.
A constant theme in "Dry Lips Oughta Move to Kapuskasing" is the conflict of two opposing religions and the nature of the relationship between Christianity and Native spirituality. In a lecture, Tomson Highway has said "Christianity takes personal power away from you", and this is the undercurrent for both Dry Lips and The Rez Sisters; to dramatize the outcome of the attempt of White culture to destroy Native culture.
During the same lecture, Highway stated that "Christianity was a beautiful idea that went horribly wrong".
As Highway indicates in his notes to The Rez Sisters, "Wasaychigan" means window in Ojibwa. This functions as a metonym in both plays. It symbolizes Native communities looking out on an economically stalwart White society, and then looking in at its own signs of self-destruction and self-preservation. Pelajia Patchnose, of The Rez Sisters, sits atop the roof of her house replacing shingles. She can see " half of Manitoulin Island on a clear day" She sees indications of a prolific family life behind Marie-Adele's white picket fence, and signs of delinquency and negligence in Big Joey's garbage heap...