Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pro-Indian 1932 Western "End of the Trail" Screens in Hillcrest This Saturday!

As part of its continuing exploration of Native American rights and the continuing oppression and virtual genocide against Native people in the United States, Activist San Diego is showing a rare and unusual film from 1932 this Saturday, January 26, 7 p.m., at the Joyce Beers Community Center in Hillcrest, in the Uptown District mall on Vermont Street north of University between Panera and Aladdin Restaurants.

The film is “End of the Trail,” a 1932 Columbia Western that was the first U.S. film to depict the Indian Wars of the 1870’s from a pro-Native perspective. Strikingly similar in plot and theme to the 1980 Academy Award winner “Dances with Wolves,” “End of the Trail” tells the story of U.S. cavalry captain Tim Travers (Tim McCoy), who is unjustly thrown out of the U.S. Army for allegedly providing guns to the Arapahoe Indians. Then an attack by Travers’ former fellow officers results in the “collateral damage” death of Travers’ son. With nowhere else to go, Travers joins the Arapahoes and becomes part of their war council.

At a time when virtually all Westerns depicted Native people as mindless savages, “End of the Trail” — despite at least one wince-inducing line — shows them sympathetically and condemns the U.S. government’s systematic breaking of all treaties with the tribes. Tim McCoy’s unusual background helps explain why he made this film. In the 1920’s he was part of an oral history project that interviewed Native survivors of the battle of the Little Big Horn, thereby taking down the only firsthand accounts we have of it. The film’s script by Stuart Anthony anticipates the pro-Native readings of the Indian Wars by 1960’s and 1970’s historians like Native writers Dee Brown and Vine DeLoria, Jr. and whites like Howard Zinn.

The screening is free of charge, but donations to Activist San Diego’s community radio project, KNSJ 89.1 FM — an FCC-licensed broadcast station in East County scheduled to go on the air in April 2013, and an affiliated Internet radio site now operational at — will be requested.

For more information about this event, please contact Mark Gabrish Conlan at (619) 688-1886.

For more information about the film:

For a review of the film by Mark Gabrish Conlan: