skip navigation
When the Redskins Rode

When the Redskins Rode(1951)

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (0)


powered by AFI

By 1753, after years of fighting European colonists, Indian tribes, through treaties with the English and French, have begun to live peacefully with the whites. In July, at an outdoor gathering in Williamsburg, Prince Hannoc, son of Shingiss, chief of the Delaware Nation, wins a wrestling match against a white. Elizabeth Leeds, who lives above the White Swan Inn, wins a wager betting on the prince and requests him to visit her in her room that evening. As Hannoc, who has learned to speak English just that year, waits for her, the man who lost the bet, a bigot named Appleby, calls him a "Redskin" and insults him concerning his interest in Elizabeth. Hannoc goes for Appleby's throat, and when they are separated, Appleby challenges him to a duel. As his weapon, the prince chooses a cleaver, which he throws at a portrait on the wall, splitting the face, thus scaring Appleby off. In Elizabeth's room, Hannoc is reticent to respond to her advances and says it is because he is an Indian. She then lets him know she is half-Indian, giving him an Indian friendship belt, which she says was given to her by her mother, a Shawnee. She kisses him, but he says she is more white than Indian and doubts that she could share the life of an Indian man. As she goes behind a partition to undress, he leaves. John Delmont, the largest importer in the colonies, who in reality is a French spy named Devereaux, then visits Elizabeth, his lover. After the Miamis, in league with the French, burn a settler's home and kill the inhabitants, Col. George Washington, leading the Virginia militia, and his scout, Christopher Gist, realize that the French intend to construct forts along the Ohio River on British land to connect settlements in the south with Canada. Washington believes that the colonists' only hope is to get the powerful, but neutral, Delaware Nation on the British side and then other tribes would follow. He warns Prince Hannoc that if the French succeed, they will also take Delaware land. That night, outside the inn, three men led by Appleby attack the prince, and according to plan, Elizabeth stops the fight and takes Hannoc inside to clean his wounds. As Delmont eavesdrops, Hannoc reveals that Washington will march with forty men tomorrow to meet Shingiss. During the journey, they repel an attack by French soldiers disguised as Indians. At the Delaware village, Chief Shingiss learns that his son does not want to marry his childhood love Morna, but that he desires a half-white woman. Angry that the white man has taken his son, Shingiss now refuses to enter into a treaty with England, saying the Delaware people will stand alone. Washington goes to Fort Le Boeuf to deliver a protest to French commander St. Pierre. He plans to hold Washington as a "guest" while his soldiers and men from the Wyandot tribe attack the Delaware village, as he does not know that Shingiss refused the treaty offer, but believes they are only waiting for the British king's signature before it takes effect. When Washington does not return, Hannoc and Gist invade the fort and capture needed rifles before leaving with Washington and blowing up the powderhouse. After the French enter the Delaware village to claim the land, Washington's men fight beside the Delaware, and the French and the Wyandots are defeated. Shingiss, now convinced that his people cannot stand alone, agrees to meet with Virginia Governor Robert Dinwiddie, but insists that Morna travel with them. Showing Williamsburg to the chief, Washington calls it a "village of peace," explaining that he desires freedom and independence for every man, and that they plan to build a country, not threatening forts. Impressed, Shingiss predicts that Washington will be a great leader. Two months later, as they are still waiting for the king's signature on the treaty, Dinwiddie receives word that the Ottawa from Canada are joining the French and Wyandot forces. Outnumbered 1,000 to 150 in the defense of the newly constructed Fort Necessity at Great Meadows, Washington asks Shingiss if his men will fight with them before the treaty arrives, but Shingiss refuses. Fearing that the Delaware will join the fight, Delmont sends assassins to kill Shingiss. They attack at night, and after Hannoc and Morna find the dying chief, Hannoc kills one assassin with a tomahawk and learns from another that they were following Delmont's orders. Morna trails a third assailant to the inn, leaving teeth from her necklace in a trail for Hannoc to follow. At the inn, Appleby, drunk, grabs Morna, but Hannoc knocks him out. Hannoc climbs up the building and, outside Elizabeth's window, sees Delmont kiss her and tell her he plans to bring St. Pierre news of Shingiss' death. Hannoc and Morna burst in and subdue the two. Meanwhile, the French and Indian tribes supporting them have surrounded Fort Necessity and begun pummeling it with cannon fire. Inside, Washington bitterly expresses the hope that this will teach England that America cannot be held with delays and the lack of arms and training of his militia. Hannoc, leading the Delaware, charges the French, who, with their Indian allies, retreat. After the battle, Hannoc promises Morna that he will return to his people when the war ends, and she says she will be there. As they kiss, Gist notes to Washington that at least the Indians have learned something from the white man.