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The working title of this film was Sioux Uprising. A September 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item reports that Stephen McNally was originally cast as "Stephen Cook," but was replaced by Lyle Bettger after McNally's wife fell ill. A July 26, 1952 Los Angeles Times news item notes that Alexis Smith was originally scheduled to play the female lead. According to a preliminary Universal cast listing, Rosa Rey was to appear in the role of "Heyoka." Studio publicity materials state that local Oregon Native Americans were cast as Sioux in the film, and identify the tribes as Walla Walla, Cayuse and Umatilla. According to contemporary sources, the film was shot on location in Pendleton and Portland, OR.
As depicted in the film, Stand Watie (1806-1871) was a Cherokee leader who sided with the Confederacy during the early years of the Civil War, and commanded two regiments of the Cherokee Mounted Rifles. On May 10, 1864, he received the commission of brigadier general, becoming the first Native American so promoted. In 1865, after the U.S. government began building a road from Wyoming's Ft. Laramie to Montana, Red Cloud (1822-1909), chief of the Bad Face band of the Oglalas and leader of Sioux and Cheyenne bands, led his braves in attacks on U.S. forces designed to stop the flow of settlers. During the next two years, in what was dubbed Red Cloud's War, the warrior and his braves captured Army construction troops on the Bozeman Trail and killed many whites. In 1868, Red Cloud agreed to have his people settled on the Red Cloud Agency in Nebraska.