The Daughter of Dawn is an 83-minute-long American silent film released in 1920. Between its production and restoration in 2012, it was shown only a few times — once in Los Angeles in 1920, and in Kansas City, Tulsa and a handful of other cities.
On December 18, 2013, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The film focuses around a love triangle. The lead female character is Dawn, played by Esther LeBarre. Daughter of the Dawn is the daughter of the chief of the Kiowas. He is played by Hunting Horse. White Parker plays White Eagle. Jack Sankadota plays Black Wolf. Both men are love interests of Daughter of the Dawn. Wanada Parker plays Red Wing, another woman in love with Black Wolf. The film also features a battle scene, dances and buffalo hunting.
The film features an "all-Indian cast...shot in Indian Country", with over 300 people from the Comanche and Kiowa tribes acting in the film, including White and Wanada Parker, children of Quannah Parker. The cast wore their own clothing and brought their own personal items, including tepees. The film features the "Tipi with Battle Pictures", which is a tepee in the collection of the Oklahoma Historical Society. There are lances and tomahawks in the film which represent honors earned in war by the Kiowa. Daughter of Dawn was filmed in May, June and July 1920. The filming took place in the Wichita Mountains.
The Daughter of Dawn was one of many docudramas that tended to romanticize Native American culture and lifestyle during the early 1910s and '20s. Other films of the period that boasted of all-Indian casts included In the Land of the Head Hunters (1914); Hiawatha (1913), shot by F.E. Moore's production company; The Vanishing Race, a 1917 film made by the Edison Studios; and Before the White Man Came (1920), which employed Crow Indians and Cheyenne Indians as actors.
The film score was never completed.
The Daughter of Dawn was rumored to exist, but was not in any archive and feared to be a lost film. In 2005, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art's Brian Hearn was offered the film for $35,000 by a private investigator, who was paid for a job with the film. Two years later, the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS), which has film stills and the script, purchased it for $5,000.
Upon purchase, the film comprised five reels. Some sections were joined with masking tape. The OHS applied for grants to digitize the film, which is 83 minutes long. A film score was created by David Yeagley and performed by students at Oklahoma City University. The film was shown at Fort Larned National Historic Site in 2013.