Cheyenne Autumn

Synopsis: When the government agency fails to deliver even the meager supplies due by treaty to the proud Cheyenne tribe in their barren desert reserve, the starving Indians have taken more abuse than it's worth and break it too by embarking on a 1,500 miles journey back to their ancestral hunting grounds. US Cavalry Capt. Thomas Archer is charged with their retrieval, but during the hunt grows to respect their noble courage, and decides to help them.
Director(s): John Ford
Production: Warner Home Video
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
154 min

The beginning of a day.

September 7th, 1878.

It dawned like any other day

on the Cheyenne reservation... that vast barren land

in the American Southwest...

...which was then called

Indian Territory.

But this wasn't just

another day to the Cheyenne.

Far from their homeland... out of place in this desert

as eagles in a cage...

...their three great chiefs

prayed over the sacred bundle...

...that at last,

the promises made to them...

...when the white man sent them here

more than a year ago...

...would today be honored.

The promises that had led them

to give up their own way of life... their own green and fertile country,

- Good morning, Wichowsky.

- Troops all present or accounted for, sir.

Thank you.

- Good morning.

- Good morning.

Can I steal some of your coffee?

- Help yourself.

- Thanks.

Any news?

Here comes another name now.

- Senator.

- Great.

Looks like we're gonna be up

to our ears in congressmen.

Well, the more the better.

I wish every bigwig in Washington

could see this place.

Deborah, they're here already.

Lord knows when

the Congressional Committee will arrive.

I don't blame them for being early.

You and I know what this means

to them, uncle.

A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J...

...K., L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S,

T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z.


Come help me set the table.


- Scott.

- Good morning, sir.

- Sergeant.

- Good morning, sir.

- Archer.

- Good morning, sir.

- Indians, huh?

- Yep.

Any word

from the Congressional Party?

They haven't left Fort Scott yet.

Well, let me know. Keep me advised.

Yes, sir.

Wichowsky, put the men at ease.

Let them smoke...

...if they've got anything to smoke,

which I doubt.

At ease!

You're ready to smoke!

- Good morning, friend Thomas.

- Good morning, friend Deborah.

Well, now, where have you been

hiding that dress?

That's pretty stylish for a Quaker.

I made it just for this great day.

It's mighty pretty.

Do you know when they'll arrive?

Well, you can't expect speed

from congressmen...

...but they ought to be here

any minute now.

Well, I'd offer to help you,

but I can see you don't need it.

Oh, don't I, now?

Well, the leg on the senator's chair

seems to be stuck.

Senator, huh?

Well, let's see what's wrong.

There we are.

All neat and tidy for the senator.

- Thank you.

- You're welcome. Anytime.

Friend Deborah,

where do you want the senator's chair?

I think I'll put him

at the head of the table.

He'd like that.

Plumtree, go down the road.

Let us know when those gentlemen

from the East arrive.

Hour after hour

they waited under the hot sun.

Waited for the moment

when their prayer would be answered.

When the white chiefs from Washington

would see for themselves... the Cheyenne

had been forgotten.

- Archer!

- Yes, sir.

When is that blasted party

coming anyway?

- I don't know, sir.

- You don't know, sir.

- Hey, you.

- Sir.

Any news on that party

from the East yet?

No. No, sir. Nothing since 11:30.


- Do you realize it's 5:30 now?

- Yes, sir.

Archer, see what he wants.


I ain't a-getting paid for thinking, sir

but I don't think them folks is a-coming.

Just came in from Fort Reno, sir.

I'll be damned!

"Congressional Committee delayed

by bumpy roads and dust storms.

Decided to return to Reno in order

to rest up for the Officers' Ball tonight."

You mean

they're not coming here at all?

How long do they expect me to wait

to build some barracks out here?

Archer, I'm going to Fort Reno,

see to it.

Friend major, please...

...will you tell them about the medicine

and the food the Indians need?

And all the things

that were promised?

Uncle, you must make him listen.

How can I?

You know what he thinks of Quakers.

You've been here from the beginning.

You've watched them die of smallpox

and measles and malaria.

You've watched them starve.

Haven't you anything to say?

Nothing that you can't say better.

Major Braden!

I'm asking you to plead for justice.

I'm asking you to make them realize...

...that over a thousand Cheyenne

were brought here...

...and only 286 are left alive.

Miss Wright, my responsibility to

the Indians is only to guard them.

When you have reached my age,

you will have realized...

...that it pays to stick

to your own knitting.

That's exactly what I intend to do.

Dull Knife! Little Wolf!

What happened today

changes nothing.

The Indian Bureau

is still pledged to provide you...

...with adequate clothing and rations.

You are still pledged

to abide by the law.

Remember that.

We are asked to remember much.

The white man remembers nothing.

You spoke the truth for us.

This we will not forget.

But there will be no more school.

Oh, no.

Oh, no, please don't do that

to the children.

The white man's words are lies!

It is better that our children

not learn them.

It is not the words,

but who speaks them.

Has speaking white men's words

made you a liar?

Our words were learned long ago.

When some white men

still spoke truth.

And so began, what to most people...

...must seem to be

only a footnote in history.

It ain't in my department, sir...

...but looks to me

like them kids is a-playing hooky.

You're gonna be pretty lonesome,

friend School Teacher.

No scholars.

They'll come.


Spanish Woman!

Friend Deborah, leave this place.

Friend Thomas, you know

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James R. Webb

James R. Webb (October 4, 1909 – September 27, 1974) was an American writer. He won an Academy Award in 1963 for How the West Was Won.Webb was born in Denver, Colorado, and graduated from Stanford University in 1930. During the 1930s he worked both as a screenwriter and a fiction writer for a number of national magazines, including Collier's Weekly, Cosmopolitan and the Saturday Evening Post. Webb was commissioned an army officer in June 1942 and became a personal aide to General Lloyd R. Fredendall who was commander of the II Corps (United States). Webb accompanied Fredendall to England in October 1942 and participated in the invasion of North Africa in November 1942 when the Second Corps captured the city of Oran. The Second Corps then attacked eastward into Tunisia. In February 1943 the German army launched a counterattack at Kasserine Pass which repulsed the Second Corps and nearly broke through the Allied lines. The Supreme Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower relieved Fredendall of command in March 1943 and sent him back to the United States where he became deputy commander of the Second United States Army at Memphis, Tennessee. Webb returned to the United States with Fredendall and later served in the European Theater. Webb left the Army after the war and returned to Hollywood, California, where he continued his work as a screenwriter. He died on September 27, 1974, and was buried in Los Angeles National Cemetery. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Cheyenne Autumn" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 27 May 2024. <>.

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