White Fawn's Devotion

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White Fawn's Devotion
Directed by James Young Deer (uncredited)
Written by James Young Deer (uncredited)
Starring Princess Red Wing
Distributed by Pathé Frères
Release dates
June 18, 1910
Running time
11 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent
White Fawn's Devotion: A Play Acted by a Tribe of Red Indians in America

White Fawn's Devotion: A Play Acted by a Tribe of Red Indians in America is a 1910 American short dramatic silent film. Although a few writers believe the film features Young Deer's wife Princess Red Wing as "White Fawn", the lead woman does not fit St. Cyr's description. The movie was shot in New Jersey at 24fps.[1]

White Fawn's Devotion is the earliest surviving film directed by a Native American. It was one of the earlier films shot in America by the French company Pathé.[2] A reviewer in the New York Dramatic Mirror wrote that the film "proves to be interesting if we can forget the New Jersey scenery" and noted that "it is not quite clear where the devotion comes in, nor of what it consists.".[3]

In 2008, the movie was added to the United States National Film Registry as being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


When a settler in the Dakotas gets word that he is to inherit a large fortune, his Native American wife is upset. Believing that she will lose her husband if he returns East, she stabs herself with a knife. Her husband finds her and removes the knife, but their daughter see him with the knife in his hand and her apparently dead mother.[4] The child, believing the father committed the murder, alerts the nearby Indian village. Several Indians then engage the settler in a long chase. When the settler is captured, the Indians intend to put him to death until White Fawn miraculously revives and informs the Indians of the truth.


James Young Deer (also known as J. Younger Johnston or James Young Johnson), the uncredited director and writer of White Fawn's Devotion, was believed to be the first Native American film director. His ancestors were members of the Nanticoke people of Delaware.[5] Young Deer was hired by Pathé Frères as a director and scenario writer and frequently worked in collaboration with his actress wife Lillian St. Cyr, also known by her stage name Princess Red Wing. Out of the more than 100 short and a few feature films he made, White Fawn's Devotion is one of fewer than 10 films of Young Deer's to have survived.


  1. ^ White Fawn's Devotion at the Internet Movie Database
  2. ^ New York Dramatic Mirror, May 7, 1910. The Mirror reported Pathé's first film shot in the US to be The Girl from Arizona.
  3. ^ New York Dramatic Mirror, June 25, 1910.
  4. ^ Plot summary of White Fawn's Devotion by Snow Leopard, IMDB
  5. ^ Romeo, Joseph A. "The Moors of Delaware". 

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