Red Wing (actress)

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This article is about the silent film actress. For Narragansett Indian Tribe historian, see Princess Red Wing.
This article is about the Native American actress. For dancer, see Lili St. Cyr.
Red Wing (Lillian St. Cyr)
Red Wing 1914.jpg
Who's Who in the Film World, 1914
Born Lillian St. Cyr
(1873-02-13)February 13, 1873
Winnebago Reservation, Nebraska, United States[1]
Died March 13, 1974(1974-03-13) (aged 101)
New York City, New York, United States
Occupation Actress
Years active 1908 - 1921
Spouse(s) James Young Deer (1906-19??)
Joe Eaglefoot (1925-1929)

Red Wing (born Lillian Margaret St. Cyr; February 13, 1873 – March 12, 1974) was an American actress of the silent era. She and her husband James Young Deer have been dubbed by some as the first Native American Hollywood "power couple."[2][3] She was born on the Winnebago Reservation in Nebraska.

Lillian attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, which enrolled students from a variety of Native American tribes. She moved to Washington, D.C. to work as a domestic servant for Kansas Senator Chester I. Long and his wife. There she met and married J. Younger Johnson (James Young Deer) on April 9, 1906. Young Deer was of mixed European, African-American, and Delaware Indian ancestry (according to St. Cyr) and was a member of the Nanticoke tribe. A native of Washington, D.C., she served in the US Navy during the Spanish–American War.[4]

After they married, the couple performed a Western act in various venues around New York City and Philadelphia.[5][6] In 1908, St. Cyr appeared in two short film, Kalem's The White Squaw and Lubin's The Falling Arrow. In the summer of 1909, they worked as technical advisers and as extras for two films directed by D.W. Griffith. St. Cyr also appeared in Vitagraph's Red Wing's Gratitude that fall as the character Princess Red Wing. Concurrently, they worked for Bison films (New York Motion Picture Co.), which relocated from New York City to Edendale, in the fall of 1909.[4]

St. Cyr is best known for her lead role in The Squaw Man (1914) by producer/director Cecil B. DeMille and co-directed by Oscar Apfel, released in 1914. This was followed by a role with cowboy star Tom Mix in In the Days of the Thundering Herd (1914) and another in Fighting Bob (1915). The 1916 version of Ramona, about Native Americans and Spanish colonists in early California, featured St. Cyr as Ramona's mother.[7]

From 1908-1921, St. Cyr performed in more than 35 short Western films.[8] She retired from acting in the 1920s and returned to New York City to settle. She was buried in the Roman Catholic St. Augustine Cemetery in Thurston County, Nebraska, near the Winnebago Reservation.

"Red Wing," a popular song of 1907, was said to be have been performed by her and was associated with her. Film historians question this.[9]


  1. ^ "Hollywood Whiteness and Stereotypes". Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  2. ^ "Profile: Lillian St. Cyr (Princess Red Wing) and James Young Deer". Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  3. ^ Brightwell, Eric (November 20, 2010). "Red Wing and Young Deer, the First Couple of Native American Silent Film". Retrieved February 10, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Aleiss, Angela (May 2013). "Who Was the Real James Young Deer?". Bright Lights Film Journal. Retrieved January 17, 2014. 
  5. ^ One Reel a Week by Fred J. Balshofer and Arthur C. Miller
  6. ^ Linda M. Waggoner, biographical research[citation needed]
  7. ^ Aleiss, Angela (February 28, 2014). "The Lillian St. Cyr Story, Part 2: 'Squaw Man' and the Hollywood Years". Indian Country Today Media Network. Retrieved March 8, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Young Deer and Red Wing". newspaperrock. Retrieved 2010-08-11. 
  9. ^ O'Connor, Mark (July 15, 2011). "Red Wing". The O'Connor Method - A New American School of String Playing. New American School of String Playing. II. Retrieved July 8, 2013. 

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