White Fawn’s Devotion

White Fawn’s Devotion: A Play Acted by a Tribe of Red Indians in America is a 1910 American short dramatic silent film. Although a few writers believe the film features Young Deer’s wife, Lillian St. Cyr, otherwise known as Princess Red Wing as “White Fawn”, the lead woman does not fit St. Cyr’s description. The movie was shot in New Jersey at 24fps.

White Fawn’s Devotion is the earliest surviving film directed by a Native American. It was one of the earlier films shot in America by the French company Pathé. A reviewer in the New York Dramatic Mirror wrote that the film “proves to be interesting if we can forget the New Jersey scenery” and noted that “it is not quite clear where the devotion comes in, nor of what it consists.”.

In 2008, the movie was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

The Plot

When a settler in the Dakotas gets word that he is to inherit a large fortune, his Native American wife is upset. Believing that she will lose her husband if he returns East, she stabs herself with a knife. Her husband finds her and removes the knife, but their daughter sees him with the knife in his hand and her apparently dead mother. The girl, believing her father committed the murder, alerts the nearby Indian village. Several Indians then engage the settler in a long chase. When the settler is captured, the Indians intend to put him to death until White Fawn miraculously revives and informs the Indians of the truth. This ending, in which an interracial couple ends up together, is a rare occurrence for this period of film production

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