Rare, 1920 film featuring 300 Comanche and Kiowa
actors to premiere in Kansas
Kansas: "The Daughter of Dawn", a movie more than 90
years in the making, saw it's 21st-century premiere in Larned,
Kansas. It was shown
the public only once before -- in a 1920 viewing in Los
What makes it so valuable are the actors. All are the sons
and daughters of the Kiowa and Comanche tribes who once
roamed the Plains of Kansas. They brought their own
clothing, horses, tepees and everyday objects to be
filmed on location in the Wichita
Mountains. Key actors were
children of Comanche Chief Quanah Parker: White and Wandada Parker.
When Kit Farwell
learned “The Daughter of Dawn" would be premiering in
Kansas, he flew in from Virginia for the showing.
A descendant of the Comanche nation, Farwell hoped
to see long-deceased family members. Some are listed in
the movie’s credits.
Over the years, word spread that such a movie once existed, but only a few black-and-white photos and the movie script were proof of its existence. Only one copy had been made, and that was on highly flammable and easily decomposable silver nitrate film. Most believed the film was lost to time or the elements.
less than a decade ago, the movie was plucked from obscurity.
The detective asked if the
Oklahoma Historical Society [OHS] wanted to buy the movie.
Blackburn didn’t. Not for $35,000.
Already the film has led to important discoveries. Historians noticed a tepee with unusual markings – yellow and black horizontal stripes. Known as the Tipi with Battle Pictures, it was given to the Kiowa by the Cheyenne as a symbol of peace.
Historians believe the Tipi with Battle Pictures was present when the Kiowa signed treaties at Fort Larned in 1865 and at the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty of 1867.
Each year when the tepee was remade, the paintings were
copied to the next tepee. These paintings were handed down from one
generation to the next – a virtual history of the Kiowa.
The tepee’s paintings served as a record.
In 1916, the paintings on
the Tipi with Battle Pictures were re-created from
memory on a new tipi by Kiowa artists Stephen Mopope, James
Auchiah, and Silverhorn. But no one knew what had become
of it. Then one day, while Matt Reed was in the OHS
basement, he came upon a canvas bundle tied
together with rope.
He took it off the shelf and began to unroll it. The
unmistakable markings on the canvas stood out.
Eugene Stumbling Bear is descended from the Kiowa. Chiefs Stumbling Bear and Satanta were his
great-grandfather and great-great-uncle. Both were
present at the signing of 1865 and 1867 treaties. And he
may have relatives in the movie.
Village © Gina Boltz
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