The Education of Little Tree

Synopsis: Little Tree is an 8-year-old Cherokee boy, who, during the time of the depression, loses his parents and starts to live with his Indian grandma and grandpa and learn the wisdom of the Cherokee way of life.
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Richard Friedenberg
Production: Paramount Home Video
  4 wins & 2 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
112 min

It began at the Jericho Mine,

Jericho City, Tennessee,

in the year 1935,

the day after Ma died.

She'd lasted only a year after

Pa was killed in the army.

That's how I came to live with

Granma and Granpa when I was eight.

One time, Granma told me that

when you come on something good,

first thing to do is stare it

with whosoever you can find.

That way, the good spreads out,

we're no telling how far it'll go.

Which is right.

So I'm telling the

story of them days,

how Granma and Granpa got

me away from Aunt Martha

and took me to live

in their mountains,

where they'd raised

my pa before me,

and which I know now was the

secret heart of the world.

You stop, right where you stand!

I said no!

You ain't goin' off with no backwoods

white Indian so long as I got breath.

Sally was my sister

and she gave him to us.

Put a hand to it,

Henry, for Jesus' sake.

You can't waltz in here and carry

him off to some God-forsaken...

Martha, leave him be.

It ain't right.

It ain't right, by damn!

Wales, he's wearin' out.


Are you OK, son?

Take the light.

You ain't wakening

him his first morning?

Just giving him the option, is all.

Little Tree, are you

awake enough to hear me?

We're heading up to the corn patch.

Figure you might like to help.

- Wales!

- It's up to you.

Come on, now!

Well, now!

Go on, get off him!

They're heartened to see someone new.

They get plenty of Granma and me.

That's Blue Boy.

They the only shoes you got?

Bet you can't feel a

thing through them soles.

We'll take care of that.

To learn, you got to feel the ground.

All right... You'll stay!

She's coming alive!

Don't feel sad, Little Tree.

It's the Way.

The falcon caught the slow bird, so

it won't have no babies that are slow.

It helps the bird out, you see?

It's a lesson. Animals

know that, just look around.

Only the white man takes

more than his share.

He'll claim whatever he can,

no matter how much it is.

He'll run his flag up, saying,

"This stands for my right to more. "

Then there'll be a war

over it and men'll die.

Like your daddy.

You're saying, "Hold on there, I

thought Granpa was a white man. "

It's the truth. I was born

white, no doubt about it.

But, when I met your granma,

how young she was and... she could dance!

We married and I began to see

the world through Cherokee eyes,

till I came at last

to understand the Way.

And so will you, Little Tree.

You'll learn you can't

change the rules of the Way,

even if you are

white, and that's that.

My ma was white.

As was mine.

Fine a woman as ever lived.

- As was mine.

- She was.

She pleased your

daddy, too. He told us.


As he can't get to the

settlement every day for school,

a crying shame, nothing

we can do about it,

I plan to each him

myself. All I know, anyhow.

Look at the first word.

Can you make out what it says?

Aard... vark.


Aard... what?

Large, burrowing, African mammal

that feeds on ants and termites.

That's his first word?

Tell me, when is the occasion going

to arise for him to employ this word?

- Can't never tell.

- Yeah, that's right, Little Tree.

You go to the settlement, you never

can tell what's going to come up.

You know, like,

"Little Tree's downcast.

Seems he lost his aardvark. "

"That's funny," says Mr. Jenkins.

"Miss Perkins is having

trouble with her aardvark, too.

"Had to go all the way to Knoxville,

up to hospital, have her whole

dang aardvark removed!

"She's resting comfortable

now, but... Them aardvarks!"

You can't never tell!

You'll stay!

How old are you going to

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Richard Friedenberg

Richard Friedenberg is an American screenwriter and film director. He wrote the screenplay for A River Runs Through It (1992), starring Brad Pitt, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award, and the screenplay for the Hallmark Hall of Fame television film Promise (1986), starring James Garner and James Woods, for which he won an Emmy Award. He also wrote the screenplay for Dying Young starring Julia Roberts and wrote and directed The Education of Little Tree (1997). more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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