Oshondah-Wekgohna (Firecat of Discord)

Institute History

  • 1996 June Screenwriters Lab


Stick-Dave Powless is a successful but disenchanted Native American blues guitarist who has lived in Chicago for a number of years. Although raised on a reservation in Wisconsin, Stick has not returned home since the death of his wife.

In the interim, tax-free gas and cigarette sales, casino gaming operations and a corrupt tribal government have the reservation in turmoil. A power struggle between progressive and traditional factions has created an atmosphere of intense hostility and fear. Young drug-addicted thugs work for the power hungry entrepreneur Ted Elm-Toad, who has seized power through a reign of terror. Though Stick and Toad are childhood friends, upon Stick's return it becomes apparent that the two men have fallen on separate sides of the issue.

What emerges is a cultural struggle between the ancient forces of good and evil as the power that motivates the principal figures reveals itself. Ted has sought the power of an ancient witch along with the legendary oppressor Todadaho. Stick, guided by his grandfather and orenda (chief), seeks and retains his power from the Girenorah-gowah (The Great Law) and the visitation of the peacemaker.

Stick perceives himself to be sick and weak, blaming himself and his alcoholism for the death of his wife several years earlier. He is consoled and cleansed by his grandfather, Jebby Powless, with an ancient ritual and informed that he must take his responsibility as a "soon to be orenda" by confronting the evil that exists.

Marie Powless is Toad's wife but is currently seeking a divorce. She is also Stick's sister-in-law and in line to become clan mother. Through her allegiance with the traditional faction, she and Stick find the beginnings of a possible relationship.

As the final battle approaches, the unfolding scenario is rich with witches, shape shifters, time warps, gun battles and cultural legends that contain messages of pertinence that apply to the present day.

Note: Oshondah-wekgohna refers to a warning the Peacemaker gave to the first fifty chiefs at the formation of the Girenorah-gowah (The Great Law) and the subsequent Five Nation Confederacy of the Hodenausaunee (Iroquois). "If you seriously disagree with each other the consequences will be devastating, and this disagreement will cause you to disregard one another. While you are quarreling, Oshondah-wekgohna will come and take your rights and privileges away. Your grandchildren will suffer and be reduced to poverty and disgrace." Oshondah-wekgona is the Firecat of discord.


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