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The picture, the first one produced by Kirk Douglas' independent company, Bryna Productions, Inc.(named after Douglas' mother), was filmed entirely in Bend, OR. A written onscreen acknowledgment at the end of the film thanks the Bend, OR Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. National Forestry Service for their cooperation. Although an article in American Cinematographer noted that the film was shot by Frank Daugherty, Wilfrid M. Cline is credited onscreen as director of photography; the extent of Daugherty's contribution to the released film, if any, has not been determined. According to a February 1955 Daily Variety news item, the film was to be based on a story by John Loring, but the extent of Loring's contribution to the released film has not been determined.
Kirk Douglas' wife, Anne Buydens, was the picture's casting supervisor. Diana Douglas, who portrays "Susan Rogers," was Douglas' former wife; The Indian Fighter was their first film together. According to a October 20, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, Diana Douglas was "upped to co-star billing...as a result of reaction cards received at [a] sneak preview held recently in Inglewood." Diana and Kirk Douglas, along with their son Michael and grandson Cameron, also appeared together in the 2003, Fred Schepisi-directed film It Runs in the Family. The Indian Fighter marked the screen debut of international fashion model Elsa Martinelli. According to a November 9, 1955 Hollywood Reporter news item, the title song, by Franz Waxman and Irving Gordon, was written in both English and Sioux.
During the years that followed the Civil War, many whites entered the Western mining territories of Colorado, Montana and California by way of the Bozeman Trail, which passed through Teton Sioux land. Red Cloud and his Oglala Tetons, along with other Teton bands, increased their raids on white migrants and military patrols. When the Army was ordered to build more forts to protect the trail, Red Cloud launched a two-year campaign against them. The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty led to the evacuation of the forts in exchange for the cessation of these attacks, after which the Sioux burned the posts down.