4 Hollywood’s Native Americans Frank was paid $2.50 per day for her role as Curtis’s “leading lady,” but years later lamented that she never received screen credit.12 In the Land of the Head Hunters was Frank’s only movie role. As an ambitious filmmaker eager to make a name for himself in the budding movie industry, Young Deer attempted to create his own version of Indian tales. His directorial skills blossomed under Louis J. Gasnier, who oversaw productions when Pathé decided to strengthen its American market and open a studio in Jersey City in 1910.13 The French studio’s style of farce and humor previously had faced criticism for being too ris- qué or alien to America’s stuffy Victorian audiences, and even as an Amer- ican company Pathé could not escape accusations of “bad taste.”14 One of their films, The Squaw’s Mistaken Love (1911), dumbfounded reviewers with its story of an Indian maiden who actually makes love to a white man only to discover that he is really a woman in disguise.15 Gasnier, a former French stage director and photographer, seemed ideal for Pathé’s newfound Western tales of thrilling adventures and dangerous stunts. He nearly killed himself attached underneath a wagon while filming a run- away horse: Quite unexpectedly, the wagon pitched forward and turned a complete somersault.16 But he also had a knack for spotting talent, and his influence on Young Deer soon became apparent when the rookie film- maker dazzled audiences with his own daredevil stunts. For The Maid of Niagara (1910), Young Deer sent a (miniature) Indian maiden in a canoe over the roaring Niagara Falls, and in The Red Girl and the Child (1910) he cast his actress wife Lilian St. Cyr as the swashbuckling Indian heroine who scales steep cliffs and bounds across canyon crevices. Unlike Young Deer’s murky heritage, Lilian St. Cyr hailed from an established family on Nebraska’s Winnebago Reservation (now the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska).17 She was born Lilian Margaret St. Cyr on February 13, 1884, at a time when the Winnebago had lost much of their land to white settlers and government agents forcibly removed Native children from their homes to boarding schools. Her mother Julia De Cora was Winnebago and a distant cousin to the renowned artist, teacher, and author Angel De Cora. Lilian’s father Mitchell St. Cyr was a farmer whose father was reportedly French Canadian and mother a Sauk. Lilian had seven siblings along with two half-brothers from Mitchell’s marriage to another woman.18 Both the De Coras and the descendants of Mitchell St. Cyr left a legacy of talent. Older sister Julia was a champion of Indian rights and had graduated from the Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (now Hampton University) in Virginia. Lilian herself had gradu- ated from Carlisle in 1902 and later lived in Washington, DC, with Kan- sas Senator Chester I. Long and his family.19 One of Lilian’s relatives,
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