Before The White Man Came 1920

A feature about Native Americans with an all-Native American cast — this was quite a concept in the silent era, when Caucasian actors played everything from African-Americans to Asians (and an often hired ethnic star, the Japanese Sessue Hayakawa, played everything from Latins to Indians). None of the actors are credited, but director John E. Maple (a Caucasian) is, as is the writer, W.E. Wing. The story is the kind of melodramatic fare that critics of the day referred to as “hokum,” and about the only really interesting aspect of this romance is the cast. After purifying himself in a ceremony, Big Elk asks pretty Che-wee-na to be his bride. She accepts, but White Wolf, the son of the chief of a rival tribe, is determined to have the girl at any cost. Big Elk and White Wolf fight it out for Che-wee-na, and Big Elk wins. White Wolf gets revenge by kidnapping one of the squaws from Big Elk’s tribe. In another raid, White Wolf and his men break into Big Elk’s camp, kill some of the men and make off with Che-wee-na. The Indian maiden is about to be burned at the stake when Big Elk comes to her rescue. The couple are reunited and, presumably, live happily ever after.

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Genre: Silent Films
Starring: Old Badger, Bird Tail, Bear Claw
Year: 1920
Color/BW: Black & White
Movie Type: Public Domain Films
Decade: 1920s
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