Well Placed Words Can Make a Difference

James Stewart played Tom Jeffords and Jeff Chandler played Cochise in the 1950 film Broken Arrow.  Chandler was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor.  

As you get a chance, watch the first nine minutes of this watershed 1950 movie on you tube or see the entire flick.  I, of course, have this film and have played it many times.  Tom Jeffords, riding through Apache Country, spots a badly wounded Apache boy away from the stronghold on his novice mission.  The boy, 14, ran into a skirmish between the Cavalry and the Indians and has about six pieces of buck shot in  his back.  The boy is close to death as the vultures overhead have indicated. Overcoming mutual suspicion, Jeffords removes the lead over the next few hours.

After a few days, Tom tells the boy he needs additional recuperation.  The young Apache says he must go now because “…my mother is crying in the wikia…”  The stunned White Man never really believed an Apache women capable of love and worry.  Seconds later, three Apache men send arrows into the tree.  The boy says his elders have been watching, see he is not hurt, and wonder what’s going on.  Jeffords reluctantly gives up his gun and the boy hollers for the men proceed.  He yells “…this white man is my friend.”  The boys explains the situation to his elders.

There are a few minutes of  hateful dialogue.  After all, Indians and Whites have been at war in Arizona for over 10 years.   One Indians cruelly grabs Stewart’s shirt and says  “…You did not kill.  We will not kill this time-but not again.”   The other Indian gives him his gun.

Jeffords learns two things  (1) Apache women can cry over their sons and (2) the men had a sense of fairness even though they wanted to kill.  After arriving at the fort, he studies Apache ways.  Jeffords goes alone on a peace mission into the dangerous Apache Stronghold. He meets  Cochise and gradually establishes, in stages,  a shaky peace.  There are no final victories, peace wavers, and a bumpy road is ahead.  Nevertheless, things improved drastically for the better.

Isn’t it possible that people could do this, if only rarely, throughout their life.  Either through observing another person’s kind action or words you could change things for the better.  The incidents mentioned above seem small when matched against all of the Indian Wars in Arizona; by acting on incident and one  phrase, a white man started a fragile peace, which gained momentum, in Arizona.

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