GenreDrama Running time1h 56m Music directorMark Isham LanguageEnglish
Release dateDecember 25, 1997 (1997-12-25) WriterForrest Carter (novel), Earl Hamner Jr. (teleplay), Don Sipes (teleplay), Richard Friedenberg (screenplay) CastJoseph Ashton (Little Tree), James Cromwell (Nonno), Tantoo Cardinal (Nonna), Graham Greene (Willow John) Similar moviesRichard Friedenberg directed The Education of Little Tree and Snow in August
TaglineA boy of two worlds must learn to be his own man.
The education of little tree
The Education of Little Tree is a 1997 American film written and directed by Richard Friedenberg based on the controversial 1976 fictional memoir of the same title by Forrest Carter about an orphaned boy raised by his paternal Scottish-descent grandfather and Cherokee grandmother in the Great Smoky Mountains.
In the 1930s, an eight-year-old boy who is given the Native American name "Little Tree" (Joseph Ashton) was being raised alone by his mother, having been widowed by war, and is left an orphan when she dies of illness. His white mother's sister comes to take him but his paternal grandfather (James Cromwell) and grandmother (Tantoo Cardinal), whose ancestors had escaped from the Trail of Tears and hidden in the Great Smoky Mountains, arrive and take the boy to live with them. In his grandparents' care, the boy learns about his heritage as a Native Americans in the United States through them and their Cherokee friend Willow John (Graham Greene). Little Tree is not only taught how to live the Native way as one with the Earth but also to 'learn a trade' passed down through his granpa's Scottish heritage, 'whiskey' making. This causes problems for this family with professional still thieves.
A complaint filed with child services by his White Aunt gives reason for the government to take him and so Little Tree is removed from his home by the government and placed in the Notched Gap Indian School, a fictional Native American boarding school whose mission is to reform Native children and make them assimilate into the dominant white culture by stripping him of his Native heritage, but Little Tree's grandfather, made aware of his desire to go home through the help of Willow John, soon rescues him and takes him back home.Little Tree is orphaned once again as his Grandfather dies and his Grandmother follows soon after.Willow John takes him under his wing to learn more of the Cherokee way, and the story is told into adulthood by reminiscences.