Movie Monday August 28, 2017

Bartlesville Area History Museum presents ‘Movie Monday’

Bartlesville Area History Museum’s “Movie Monday” will offer an opportunity to view “The Daughter of Dawn” — an original historic silent film produced in Oklahoma in 1920 and featuring a Native American cast.

The movie will be shown from noon to 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 28, at the history museum, located on the fifth floor of City Hall, 401 S. Johnstone Ave.

“This non-fiction motion picture disappeared without a trace sometime after 1923, possibly seen for the last time at a Janesville, Wisconsin, junior high school the same year,” said BAHM Museum Coordinator Jo Crabtree. “Some 90 years later, it came to light by way of an interesting set of circumstances.”

Crabtree said that in 2004, a North Carolina private detective was offered five celluloid reels in lieu of a cash payment for services, which he accepted in hopes that someone would someday find them valuable enough to purchase.

“Several years after it surfaced, this historic anthropological record ultimately became property of the Oklahoma Historical Society,” Crabtree said. “The audience will have the opportunity to learn more details about the exchange of ownership from the detective to OHS, as well as the film’s ultimate restoration timeline, during the presentation of the movie.”

First screened in the fall of 1920 in Los Angeles, Calif., “The Daughter of Dawn” was previewed by an audience in the historic College Theater. One film critic declared it “(a)n original and breathtaking adventure … hardly duplicated before.”

“Although it showed up for a few years in various locations across the country and received positive reviews, for some reason it never took the industry by storm,” Crabtree said.

Actor/director Norbert A. Myles directed the all-Indian cast — consisting of 300 Kiowa, Comanche and Caddo tribesmen — on location in the Wichita Mountains near Craterville Park. Located in the southwestern portion of Oklahoma, the once off limits to non-Indians site was one of the last gold rush locations in the United States — just one of the reasons the area was ideal for the Myles movie endeavor.

“The landscape of southwestern Oklahoma was well known for Fort Sill, famous military expeditions and many other compelling reasons for the decision to make use of the scenic mountain ranges on the southern plains for this project,” Crabtree said. “The vast acreage provided one of the most popular camping spots known in the area, estimated to be at least 10,000 years old. This land has been referred to as ‘… a sea of grass and rolling grasslands,’ and numerous famous artists have captured that beauty for many years.”

“This film is a window into that past; it’s a window into the history of the place, the history of the tribes, the history of shooting this very special movie, this document from the summer of 1920, ‘Daughter of Dawn,’” according to OHS Deputy Executive Director Dr. Bob Blackburn.

Funding for the restoration project was provided by Lawton Community Foundation, McMahon Foundation, National Film Preservation Foundation, and Oklahoma City University as well as OHS, with special thanks to the Friends of the Oklahoma Historical Society Archives and the Friends of the Oklahoma History Center.

The Bartlesville Area History Museum is a family friendly facility, where admission is free and donations are always welcome. Hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 918-338-4294.

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