It's ten o'clock at night. Dennis Dubois and Melinda Dorsey, sprawled
across the two mattresses lying on the floor and naked but for the Indian
blankets wrapped around them, are the very picture of America's vision of
college life at this moment in history. Whether that vision be interpreted
as a nightmare or a dream of intellectual and cultural freedom-come-true
probably depends on whom you voted for last November. These two voted for
Pat Paulsen and think they are in the vanguard of a finer, better, more
equitable generation of Americans.
In this, the beginning of the end of their Senior year, they are both working on their final projects. Dennis is taking notes on the diaries of Clifford Cliff (the first) which he had his friend Clifford Cliff V smuggle from his parents' library in the hope that they will support his theory that the land occupied by the Cliff College campus is, in fact, actually the property of Dennis' tribe, the Nez Percé. If he is correct, this would entitle the tribe to do with it as they wish (including, as Dennis has proposed, tearing down the "white man's elitist institution of higher discrimination" and opening a massive recreation complex where, exempt from local laws, gambling would be legal). Melinda, majoring in Abstract Mathematics, is working on some equation that barely makes sense to her and would surely make no sense at all to anyone outside the field.
Into the room strides Dennis' older brother, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Virgil Dubois.
His look of disapproval makes one thing very clear-- he voted for Nixon.
DENNISDid it ever occur to you to knock?
VIRGILDid it ever occur to you to lock?
Both Dennis and Virgil shoot the white woman a dirty look before resuming their debate.
DENNISWhat do you want?
VIRGILI thought you'd like to know-- I just found some pretty definitive documentation that our ancestors never buried anybody on any land within a hundred miles of here.
DENNISYou sellout asshole! The only chance for survival our tribe has is to establish a claim on this land! You're the Chief, for god's sake, is tenure more important than that?!
VIRGILThis isn't about my getting tenure any more than it's about you getting rich. It's about truth.
DENNISThe truth is our people have been trampled for hundreds of years! That's the only truth I know.
VIRGILThere can only be one truth, Dennis.
MELINDAYou might try to catch a film called "Rashomon", Virgil. The truth it makes clear is that there are as many "truths" as there are points of view. Nothing is absolute. Not even mathematics.
VIRGILSpare me your revisionist theories, please. This isn't about what's relevant or just or politically fashionable. It's about the law. If our people didn't bury our dead here, then we have no claim. And we didn't. We buried them in Cleveland.
MELINDAWhich only goes to show you that you don't have to be a baseball fan to subscribe to the belief that Cleveland is where the Indians are perpetually laid to rest, huh?
Virgil smiles, having finally accomplished his real goal in coming here tonight -- for, on his last comment, Dennis springs up enraged and charges at his brother, clearly intent on hurting him.
DENNISIf I find evidence in Cliff Five's papers that contradicts your "truth," are you prepared to resign as Chief?
VIRGILIt's all politics to you, isn't it Dennis? Life is one big power struggle.
DENNISIt's been that way since the creation of man, bro. And if you go public with this, you're going to be sorry.
VIRGILI've got to go with my heart.
DENNISYou're a sonuvabitch traitor to your people, y'know that?
VIRGILAnd you're an idealistic fool. My analysis of tribal oral history will be published next month. I hope that doesn't affect your grade on that misguided thesis of yours.
DENNISFortunately, Professor Archibald will be grading it, and he's always tended to support our claim.
VIRGILWell, then, I suppose ol' McGeorge is going to look quite the fool, too, won't he? What a shame.
DENNISThat's what this is really all about, isn't it? Showing him up and scoring points in the Department. What an honorable reason to betray your people. I hope you're proud of yourself.
VIRGILI most certainly am.
Melinda manages to pry Dennis off of Virgil who, massaging the throat around which Dennis had a stranglehold moments ago, exits the room with the parting:
DENNISI'll kill you you bastard!
Dennis allows Melinda to calm him down with a hit from whatever it is that he has stuffed inside his greatgrandfather's peace pipe, but not before telling her:
VIRGILYou won't kill me, and you won't ever be Chief, and you won't ever turn this oasis of learning into a den of iniquity. So give it up, kid, and find a trade.
DENNISHe's wrong, you know. About everything.