Silent Film, All-Native Cast: The Daughter of Dawn (1920)

Daughter of Dawn

Videos of Silent Film With All-Native Cast including Wanada Parker, daughter of Chief Quannah Parker.

“The Daughter of Dawn” (1920), a silent film featuring an all-Native cast came to be made, lost seemingly forever, was discovered nearly a century later (in shambles), then restored and shown to the cast’s descendants. It sure is one of the most fascinating stories in the annals of American filmmaking. “Daughter of Dawn” had its world premiere in June 2012 at the dead CENTER Film Festival in Oklahoma City. It may be the only all-Native cast silent film ever made.

Daughter of Dawn is a 80-minute, six-reel silent film shot in May, June, and July of 1920 in the Wichita Mountains of southwest Oklahoma. Eventually, the Oklahoma Historical Society will release DVD and Blu-ray versions that include director’s cuts on the history of the film, the Indian history and material culture depicted, the Wichita Mountains, the buffalo herd that still runs free, and a special feature on one tipi in the movie.

It is a significant tipi given by Cheyenne Chief Nikko-se-vast to the Kiowa Chief Dohausen. The tipi in the movie was renewed in 1916 with images painted by Haungooah or Silverhorn and Stephen Mopope, one of the Kiowa Five. That very tipi was given to the Oklahoma Historical Society in 1928. To find out more about this tipi, read the blog post.

The story, played by an all-Indian cast of 300 Kiowas and Comanches, includes a four-way love story, two buffalo hunt scenes, a battle scene, village scenes, dances, deceit, courage, hand to hand combat, love scenes, and a happy ending. The Indians, who had been on the reservation less than fifty years, brought with them their own tipis, horses, clothing, and material culture. The lead actor is White Parker, the son of the great Comanche leader Quanah Parker.

The film features special music composed and performed for the showing. The original music composition is by David Yeagley. The score is performed by the Oklahoma City University Orchestra: Ben Nilles, Conductor; John Cross, Music Editor; Mark Parker, Dean of the School of Music; Robert Henry, OCU President.

In the film, the Daughter of Dawn is played by Esther LeBarre. Her character is the daughter of the Chief of the Kiowas, played by Hunting Horse. The two young men who are romantically interested in her are White Eagle, played by White Parker, and Black Wolf, played by Jack Sankadota. Dawn loves White, but the Chief says that Wolf has many ponies so he must consider both as potential husbands for his daughter. So, Wolf loves Dawn. Dawn loves White. White loves Dawn. And for good measure a fourth person is added to this love triangle. Red Wing, played by Wanada Parker, is in love with Wolf. Both White Parker and Wanada Parker were children of the Comanche Chief Quanah Parker.

The script for the movie was developed by Norbert Myles, an actor, writer, and director brought into the project by Richard Banks, who started the Texas Film Company in 1916. Myles wrote on the cover of his script that, “This story has been made possible by R.E. Banks, whose knowledge of the Indian, and of his traditions, was gained during the twenty-five years that he lived with them.”

Video Playlist of Silent Film, All-Native Cast “The Daughter of Dawn”

READ FULL STORY OF DAUGHTER OF DAWN (PDF)

In Memory of Wanada Parker (1887 – October 26, 1970), Comanche, Daughter of Chief Quannah Parker. Wanada Parker is buried at Highland Cemetery, Lawton Comanche County, Oklahoma, USA

“The White Man goes into his church and talks about Jesus. The Indian goes into his Tipi and talks with Jesus.” ~Quannah Parker

SOURCE: Based on materials from IndianCountryTodayMediaNetwork.com by Jordan Wright and from Oklahoma Historical Society

I Love Ancestry is a global issue advocacy campaign that explores identity, diversity, heritage and culture, highlighting the experiences of marginalized people and Indigenous communities around the world.

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