The Daughter of Dawn, an 80-minute feature film, was shot in July of 1920 in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge near Lawton, southwest Oklahoma. It was unique in the annals of silent film (or talkies, for that matter) for having a cast of 300 Comanches and Kiowas who brought their own clothes, horses, tipis, everyday props and who told their story without a single reference to the United States Cavalry. It was a love story, a four-person star-crossed romance that ends with the two main characters together happily ever after. There are two buffalo hunt sequences with actual herds of buffalo being chased down by hunters on bareback just as they had done on the Plains 50 years earlier.
The male lead was played by White Parker; another featured female role was played by Wanada Parker. They were the son and daughter of the powerful Comanche chief Quanah Parker, the last of the free Plains Quahadi Comanche warriors. He never lost a battle to United States forces, but, his people sick and starving, he surrendered at Fort Sill in 1875. Quanah was the son of Comanche chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, the daughter of Euro-American settlers who had grown up in the tribe after she was kidnapped as a child by the Comanches who killed her parents. She was the model for Stands With a Fist in Dances with Wolves.
You can watch the first ten minutes of the film here. It is over 90 years old, and was produced by, directed by, and stars only Native American people.
holy fuck balls
Okay so my 30 seconds or less of Tumblr fame. I’m related to these people. The Parkers are my ancestors on my father’s side. I’m a typical American “mutt” through various marriages, but the Comanche tribe was still actually visible in my grandmother. She had beautiful, thick black hair, dark eyes, and the high cheekbones. The blood is really dilluted by the time it gets to me, and I’m all of a sixteenth. Coming from the southern US and a family who has always been here, that’s extremely common. Most people are related to some group of native people or another around here.
Mine just happen to be the Parkers, so it’s really important to me to find out more about this. My mom and dad are interested as well… so thank you Tumblr! I’d never have even known without this post.
The Oklahoma Historical Society has restored the film, and you can check up on recent news about it here. They will release it on DVD and Blu Ray “eventually”, according to their blog. The first screening was earlier this year, so they will probably continue to have limited screening for a while before then.
For more information, you can contact Bill Moore of the OHS.