Awesome story of presumed lost all-Indian cast silent film recovered and shown again

The discovery of a rare lost film with an All-Indian cast has become a great story of film preservation and history. The Daughter of Dawn is the earliest and probably only silent film with an all-Indian cast. Long thought lost after the film’s 1920 premiere, the film disappeared from the public’s consciousness until in 2003 a collector paid a private investigator with reels of the film instead of cash. The film then was sold to the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS), and film restoration began to protect the rapidly-decaying print. The reason the film survived was this was a “Paper Print Collection” copy made for the Library of Congress’s Copyright Office, as films were required to make copies there to get copyright protection.

It took only a few months to restore the film and after the intertitles [dialogue text pages inserted into the film between cuts] were added, the footage expanded out to the full movie and the original six canisters.” The completed film has a four-way love story and includes two buffalo hunt scenes, a battle scene between the Kiowa and the Comanche, scenes of village life, tribal dances, hand-to-hand combat and a happy ending.

Gee, way to spoil that 90 year old film!

The all-Native cast was mostly made up of Kiowa and Comanche, who lived on nearby reservations. Former Vaudeville performer Norbert A. Myles was hired to direct for Richard Banks’s Texas Film Company. The film then disappeared after the premiere, despite good reviews.

Blackburn, clearly thrilled with the interest the film is drawing from audiences and historians, describes its appeal this way, “The Daughter of Dawn is all Oklahoma. Acted by Oklahoma Indians, filmed entirely in Oklahoma, in a story of Oklahoma’s Kiowa and Comanche nations, scored by a Comanche and played by the Oklahoma City University Philharmonic students, even the film was restored by an Oklahoman working in Hollywood for the Film Technology Lab.”

Much more information at Indian Country Today Media Network

The Daughter of Dawn

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Written by Tars Tarkas

Tars Tarkas

Runs this joint!