Seen It Before: White Christians vs. Indian Pagans in 'Alone Yet Not Alone'
On June 13, the Christian-owned Enthuse Entertainment will release Alone Yet Not Alone, a family-friendly telling of an 18th-century Indian captivity narrative.
The film sparked controversy in January 2014 when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences revoked an Oscar nomination for the movie's original song, citing improper campaigning by its composer, Bruce Broughton.
Regardless, a few Natives question what effect the film might have on today’s perceptions of Indians.
Alone Yet Not Alone recounts the ordeal of sisters Barbara and Regina Leininger during the Seven Years' War, when Delaware Indians raided a Pennsylvania farm in 1755 and captured the two young girls (the “Penn’s Creek Massacre”). Barbara, the eldest, escaped in 1759, and Regina was released in 1764.
"This story about the Leininger sisters is almost ho-hum," says Linda Poolaw, Grand Chief of the Delaware Nation Grand Council of North America. Poolaw, 72, is a member of the Delaware Nation in Oklahoma. She was raised in the First Baptist Church in Anadarko and says she’s still a Christian.
"There was captivity going on everywhere. It just wasn't these babes," Poolaw explains by phone from her home in Anadarko, Oklahoma.
Alone Yet Not Alone is based upon the novel by Tracy Leininger Craven, who says the story came from her ancestors' own accounts. Barbara's version was first published in German in 1759 and translated into English in 1878. In the movie, Barbara is played by Craven's sister Kelly Greyson.
The film functions as a Christian allegory: The two white Christian girls struggling to survive among their "dark pagan" Delaware captors. "Despite all obstacles, [the captives] do not forsake their faith in Jesus Christ and never 'lose the song of their heart'," Craven says on the movie's website.
But off camera, trouble brewed. In 2013, Pastor Doug Phillips of the evangelical Boerne Christian Assembly in Texas resigned from his position at Vision Forum Ministries after confessing to an "inappropriate" relationship with a woman. Phillips had published the first editions of Craven’s book and played the role of Colonel Mercer in the movie. His scenes were removed and Vision Forum Ministries closed down.
The public furor prompted Native websites like Last Real Indians and Native Appropriations to question the movie’s skewed version of Indian history.
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