7 Native American Characters in Movies That Saved The White Man

Saturday, September 8 by Jesse Munoz

For many years, Hollywood movies depicting Native Americans only featured characters considered to be enemies with the white man, which thus needed to be constantly battled with. Fortunately, some of these stereotypes have faded, thanks in part to the emergence of these seven Native American characters in movies that saved the white man.

Younger Bear from “Little Big Man”

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This film tells the story of a white man named Jack Crabb, who is rescued by a band of Cheyenne Indians after his family’s wagon party is wiped out by another (presumably less friendly) band of Indians. During his time among the Cheyenne, Crabb saves the life of fellow tribesman Younger Bear, earning what the tribe calls a “life debt.” Sure enough, before the conclusion of that film Younger Bear repays his debt by saving Crabb’s life at the famed Battle of Little Big Horn, otherwise known as Custer’s Last Stand.

Kicking Bird and Wind In His Hair from “Dances With Wolves”

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An obvious choice whenever you’re discussing Native American characters that have saved the life of a white man, “Dances With Wolves” follows Army lieutenant John Dunbar's dealings with a local  tribe of Indians. Dunbar is befriended by several tribesmen, including Kicking Bird and Wind In His Hair. But trouble soon finds its way onto the plains, forcing Dunbar to explain his Indian relationships to his superiors. When the Army doesn’t buy his story, Dunbar is taken prisoner, leaving it to his new friends to lead the tribe in an attack in the name of liberating their white friend.

Hawkeye, Uncas and Chingachgook from “The Last of the Mohicans”

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When Nathaniel "Hawkeye" Poe, orphaned settler turned adopted member of the Mohicans, is asked to choose a side of allegiance in the ongoing French and Indian War, he refuses based on personal principle and the desire to continue living freely with his Mohican family (Uncas and Chingachgook). But when the trio stumbles upon an especially gruesome battlefield, they find themselves forced to rescue the daughters of a soon-to-be killed British colonel.

Tonto from “The Long Ranger”

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	<a href='http://www.screenjunkies.com/tag/the-lone-ranger/' class='linkify' target='_blank'>The Lone Ranger</a> just wouldn’t be as good at fighting evil (or even still alive) without the help of his faithful Native American sidekick Tonto. Though the character itself is highly stereotypical and offensive by today’s standards, Tonto remains one of the most beloved Native American characters in movie history, always in the right place at the right time to help his dear friend <span data-scayt_word=“Ke-mo Sah-bee”, aka the Lone Ranger.

Weird Naked Indian Guy “Wayne’s World 2”

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	After Wayne Campbell decides to put on the rock concert <span data-scayt_word=“Waynestock”, he soon realizes the project might be too ambitious. However, with the spiritual guidance of Jim Morrison and the mysterious appearances of a Weird Naked Indian Guy, Wayne is eventually able to host an awesome concert and win his girlfriend back in the process. Could this have happened without the help of the weird Naked Indian Guy? Probably not!

Kicking Wing from “Joe Dirt”

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You might be thinking, "Wait a minute. Wasn’t it Joe Dirt that inspired Native American movie character Kicking Wing to expand his roadside fireworks distribution business?" While that’s technically true, you’ll remember that is was Kicking Wing (among a few others) who were posted at Joe’s bedside, waiting for him to awake from that nasty bungee related concussion. And if Kicking Wing was there when Joe Dirt woke up, you’ve got to figure he played a pretty big role in nursing the injured redneck back to health. That definitely qualifies as saving the white man!

Chief Bromden from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

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Although probably the most grim example of a Native American movie character saving a white man, the act of Chief using a pillow to smother and ultimately kill his friend, the high-spirited and rebellious McMurphy, rather than see him suffer through life post-lobotomy is perhaps the ultimate form of savior.