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Chief John Big Tree / Chief Big Tree

Biographies note that Chief John Big Tree (1875? -1967) was Seneca and his real name was Isaac Johnny John.

He was purported to be the one who posed for the Indian Head nickel ... and there's mention that he was one of several who posed for the coin ... and there are other stories that he was not involved with the coin pose at all.

Chief John Big Tree passed away on the Onandaga, New York, Indian Reservation in 1967.  His film credits begin circa 1915 and conclude around 1950.

In the opening pages to this section on Native Americans, I noted several memorable performances of Chief John Big Tree. There was the ending in DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK (1939), where Henry Fonda, Claudette Colbert and the settlers are celebrating the defeat of John Carradine and the British soldiers. In the church, John Big Tree as 'Blue Back' appears at the pulpit, smiling, and wearing the eye patch that belonged to the defeated (and dead) Carradine ... all in glorious Technicolor. And as Chief 'Pony That Walks', Chief Big Tree has a great palaver with John Wayne (as Captain Nathan Brittles) in SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON (1949), and that John Ford directed movie happens to be one of Chief Big Tree's last roles.

While recently viewing the Tom Mix MIRACLE RIDER (Mascot, 1935) serial, Chief Big Tree shows up right after the credits as the "Indian looking into the sky" while the opening story summary scrawls on the screen.

  Although some of the data is incomplete or inaccurate, the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) has information on Chief John Big Tree:

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above is the 'Buffalo Nickel story' from the pressbook for RED FORK RANGE (Big 4, 1931) which starred Wally Wales.

(Courtesy of Ken Jones)

Above from L-to-R are Chief John Big Tree, Gertrude Chorre, her son Sonny Chorre, Eleanor Hansen and Charles Stevens.  The Chief is ordering that their white captive be made comfortable in this scene from the Johnny Mack Brown cliffhanger, FLAMING FRONTIERS (1938).

(Courtesy of Les Adams)

Above center are George O'Brien and Janet Chandler with Chief John Big Tree on the left and Bill Hazlet/Chief Many Treaties on the right in a scene from THE GOLDEN WEST (Fox, 1932).

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