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Simon Girty who fought in the American Revolution is often referred to as a “White Savage” in historical writings since he lived among the Seneca tribe from age 15 to 23 and had difficulty adjusting to white American society when he returned. Initially he served in the American military but for various reasons defected to the British and their Indian allies with whom he led numerous campaigns, eventually settling in Canada. His character appears as a brute intent on killing white colonists in two early Hollywood films called “Daniel Boone” (1936) and “Daniel Boone: Trailblazer” (1956). Recent research however reveals that this negative portrayal may be more political than factual in nature since he was considered a traitor to the rebels’ cause, and personal interviews with descendents of frontier families paint a different picture of a man struggling with his identity and sense of loyalty during this tumultuous period in North American history.
The story of his intriguing life is told through a combination of footage from personal interviews, sites of historical significance, museums, and paintings and drawings of people, places, and events. Also included is stock footage from the two Daniel Boone movies mentioned above to show how he has been characterized in popular media. Visual footage is accompanied by period music and original pieces written for the film by Jim Houston and performed by Vancouver-based Erratica. The producer is Girty’s five-times great-granddaughter.
The production follows the major events in Simon’s life until he settled in Canada. These include: his childhood in eastern Pennsylvania; his family’s move west; the attack on his family and capture by Indians; his return to American society; his defection to the British and Indian side; major campaigns he led against American military posts and colonial settlements; his marriage to a white woman, Catharine Mallott, who had also been a captive; and his permanent settlement in Canada after the fall of British-held Fort Detroit to the Americans.