A remarkable piece of history that went missing for more than 85 years has been found and restored to its former glory.
The Daughter of Dawn, the first feature film to boast an all-American Indian cast, was shot in the summer of 1920 on what was then called the Wichita National Forest and Game Preserve.
When Leo Kelley, former curator of the Museum of the Western Prairie in Altus, wrote an article about the silent film for the fall 1999 issue of The Chronicles of Oklahoma, he thought the film was lost forever. He based his article on the 37 promotional stills and the copyrighted script that director Norbert Myles placed with the Library of Congress in 1921.
By some miracle, the nitrate film survived. The sole copy resurfaced in recent years as mysteriously as it had disappeared.
According to Kelley's article, The Motion Picture News reported on Oct. 17, 1920, that the movie received a sneak preview at the College Theatre in Los Angeles. One critic called it an "original and breath-taking adventure."
For reasons unknown, the film was never theatrically released, and it fell into obscurity. It was something of a legend among the cast members, though.
The cast included Hunting Horse, a veteran of the Kiowa raids into Texas who lived near Saddle Mountain and died in 1953 at the age of 107. Two of Quanah Parker's children starred in the film. White Parker played the lead, White Eagle, who vies with Wolf (Jack Sankey-doty) for the affections of Dawn (Esther LeBarre). Wanada Parker played Wanada, who has an unrequited love for Wolf.