The Daughter of Dawn
Still from the film
Directed byNorbert A. Myles
Written byRichard Banks
Norbert A. Myles
Produced byRichard Banks
StarringHunting Horse
Oscar Yellow Wolf
Esther LaBarre
White Parker
Wanada Parker
Jack Sankeydoty
Texas Film Company
Distributed byMilestone Films
Release date
  • October 1920 (1920-10)
CountryUnited States
English intertitles

The Daughter of Dawn is an 83-minute-long American silent film released in 1920. It may be the only silent film ever made with an entirely Native American cast.[1]

Between its production and restoration in 2012, it was shown only a few times — once in Los Angeles in 1920, and in Kansas City, Tulsa and a handful of other cities.

In 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".[2][3][4]


The film focuses around a love triangle. The lead female character is Dawn, played by Esther LeBarre, daughter of the chief of the Kiowa (played by Hunting Horse.) Dawn wishes to wed White Eagle (played by White Parker, son of Comanche leader Quanah Parker) but her father wants her to also consider the powerful and influential Black Wolf, played by Jack Sankadota. Wanada Parker (also a child of Quanah Parker) plays Red Wing, another woman in love with Black Wolf. The film features depictions of typical Plains Indian life, including a battle scene, traditional dances and bison hunting.[5]


The film features an "all-Indian cast...shot in Indian Country",[6] with over 300 people from the Comanche and Kiowa tribes acting in the film, including White and Wanada Parker, children of Quanah Parker. The cast wore their own clothing and brought their own personal items, including tepees.[6] The film features the "Tipi with Battle Pictures", which is a tepee in the collection of the Oklahoma Historical Society. There are lances and tomahawks in the film which represent honors earned in war by the Kiowa.[6] Daughter of Dawn was filmed in May, June and July 1920.[5] The filming took place in the Wichita Mountains.[6]

The Daughter of Dawn was one of many docudramas that tended to romanticize Native American culture and lifestyle during the early 1910s and '20s. Other films of the period that boasted of all-Indian casts included In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914); Hiawatha (1913), shot by F.E. Moore's production company; The Vanishing Race, a 1917 film made by the Edison Studios; and Before the White Man Came (1920), which employed Crow Indians and Cheyenne Indians as actors.[7]

The film score was never completed.[6]

Acquisition and restoration

The Daughter of Dawn was rumored to exist, but was not in any archive and feared to be a lost film.[1] In 2005, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's Brian Hearn was offered the film for $35,000 by a private investigator, who was paid for a job with the film.[6] Two years later, the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS), which has film stills and the script, purchased it for $5,000.[6]

Upon purchase, the film comprised five reels. Some sections were joined with masking tape. The OHS applied for grants to digitize the film, which is 83 minutes long. A film score was created by David Yeagley and performed by students at Oklahoma City University.[6] The film was shown at Fort Larned National Historic Site in 2013.[8] The restored version was released on DVD by Milestone films.[9]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Discovery of Long-Lost Silent Film With All-Indian Cast Has Historians Reeling". Retrieved June 20, 2020.
  2. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (December 18, 2013). "Library of Congress Announces 2013 National Film Registry Selections". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 18, 2013.
  3. ^ "Cinema with the Right Stuff Marks 2013 National Film Registry". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  4. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "The Daughter of Dawn: Library of Congress Selects Daughter of Dawn for 2013 National Film Registry". Oklahoma Historical Society. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h Tanner, Beccy (April 21, 2013). "Rare, 1920 Film Featuring 300 Comanche and Kiowa Actors to Premiere in Kansas". The Wichita Eagle. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  7. ^ Aleiss, Angela (2005). Making the White Man's Indian: Native Americans and Hollywood Movies. Praeger. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-0-275-98396-3.
  8. ^ "1920 All-Native Cast Silent Film 'The Daughter of Dawn' premieres". Indian Country Today Media Network. April 23, 2013. Retrieved April 28, 2013.
  9. ^ "Daughter of Dawn, The". Milestone Films. Retrieved September 25, 2020.