Walk the Proud Land (1956)

 

 

Director: Jesse Hibbs

Starring: Audie Murphy (John P. Clum), Anne Bancroft (Tianay), Pat Crowley (Mary Dennison), Charles Drake (Tom Sweeny), Tommy Rall (Taglito), Robert Warwick (Eskiminzin), Jay Silverheels (Geronimo), Eugene Mazzola (Tono), Anthony Caruso (Disalin), Victor Millan (Santos), Ainslie Pryor (Capt. Larsen), Eugene Iglesias (Chato), Morris Ankrum (Gen. Wade), Addison Richards (Gov. Safford), Maurice Jara (Alchise).

Indian Agent John P. Culm at Arizona's San Carlos Reservation and Geronimo.

 

Spoiler warning:  below tells the entire story. 

O.k. movie.  1874, Tuscon.  John P. Clum, the new Indian agent for the San Carlos Apache Reservation, Arizona arrives in Tuscon. His first encounter in town is with men who have collected Apache scalps, an act that disgusts Clum. 

He meets General Wade, the military territorial commander, who is skeptical of Clum's qualifications for the job.  Clum answers that the army has been provided with $3 million dollars per year for the past ten years without being able to pacify the Apache.  He tells the General that the Interior Department has decided to protect the Apache bands that have surrendered and make useful citizens of them.  The General merely laughs at the idea of making Apaches useful citizens. 

At the Reservation, Clum has to make it clear to Captain Larson, in command of the troops at the reservation, that he is not subservient to the military and that he wants the army to leave the reservation. The military men think Clum is crazy, but they do leave the reservation. 

Clum makes a deep impression on the Apaches on the Reservation because he treats the Apache with a respect unknown in the past.  He especially impresses the Apache chief Eskiminzin, who son is Santos. 

But not everyone on the Reservation is enthused about the new Indian agent.  One of the braves even tries to kill Clum, but is prevented from doing so by the intervention of the chief Eskiminzin. 

Tianay is a recent widow with a young son.  She is still in mourning for her husband, but she is given a new meaning in her life when she sees the chance to help the new agent by being his servant.  Over time she falls in love with Clum.  But Clum is engaged to be married to a woman named Mary who is set to come out to the Reservation. 

Geronimo visits the Reservation asking for volunteers to join him.  But the braves on the reservation are not interested in joining Geronimo since they are fairly satisfied with life under Culm. 

Mary comes out to Tuscon and she and Culm get married by the justice of the peace.  Mary is very jealous of Tianay who believes she can be a second wife to Culm.  Mary becomes so jealous and discouraged by the hard life on the reservation that she threatens to go back home. 

When Geronimo attacks a wagon train, the warriors on the reservation are frightened of a possible army retaliation and consider joining Geronimo's band.  But Culm offers them an alternative.  He has come up with a plan to capture Geronimo and his men.  He comes up with a ruse that makes Geronimo think he is surrounded by vastly superior forces and the great Indian leader surrenders to Culm.  Culm brings Geronimo into the reservation, much to the surprise of the US army. 

Culm greets Mary who has decided to stay on the reservation with her husband.

Culm spent the rest of his life fighting for the welfare of the Indians.  But self-government for the Indians was not realized until long after his death.  Not until November 1955 did the US turn the San Carlos Reservation over to the Apaches themselves.

It was amusing to see Ann Bancroft as an Indian squaw.  Audie Murphy was not a great actor, but he did alright in the movie.  The movie is heart-warming because it pushes the idea of respect between different peoples and holds up the prospect of peace even between once warring nations.

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.   

 


Historical Background:

See Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)  

 

 

1875.

Spring.  Gen. rook was transferred to the Department of the Platte to deal with the Sioux. He was replaced by August V. Kautz. John Clum, 22 years of age, heads the San Carlos Reservation. The new policy of one of consolidation. They want to force all the sub-groups of Apaches together on the same reservation.

By August.  Now there are 4,200 Apaches at the San Carlos Reservation.

1876.

March.  John Clum  is ordered to Fort Apache to take over from the dismissed Jeffords. Clum is told to consolidate the Chiricahuas into the San Carlos Reservation. The Chiricahua Apaches came to the San Carlos Reservation, but the whole party of 700 just slipped away one night.

Clum takes a group of Apache leaders on a tour of Washington and other cities. On the trip Taza, son of Cochise, dies of pneumonia. The Apaches back in the future Arizona believe that Taza has been poisoned by the whites.

1877.

New Year’s Day. With his new wife, Clum returned to San Carlos.

March.  Naiche rode out as part of an Apache police force with Clum to arrest Geronimo for various depredations. Clum travels to Ojo Caliente, New Mexico.

April 21. Clum captures Geonimo. He is brought back to the San Carlos Reservation in irons. Victorio agrees to go to San Carlos.

May 20. Clum was back at San Carlos.

July 1.  Clum resigns and his resignation is accepted. Later he becomes the first Mayor of Tombstone.

1881. 

September 30. Geronimo and Juh leave the San Carlos Reservation. The Apaches head for Mexico. They pass by Tombstone. Mayor Clum and the Earps chase after the Apaches, but never find them.

 

 

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