"The Broken Chain" Movie Summary

by James Rutter

"The Broken Chain" tells the story of the Revolutionary War from a Native American perspective.

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Lamont Johnson directed "The Broken Chain," a made-for-cable-television movie produced by the Turner Broadcasting System in 1993. This movie tells the story of the fragile alliance between the Six Nations of the Iroquois, a confederacy of Native American tribes, some of whom fought on the side of the British during the American Revolutionary War. "The Broken Chain" focuses on two Mohawk brothers, each of whom chooses a different path in wartime.

Historical Context

French and British troops both occupied portions of North America east of the Mississippi River in 1750. Native American tribes still lived on much of the land in this region and into New York and Ohio. During the French and Indian War of 1754 to 1763, some Native Americans tribes fought with the British against the French. When the 13 colonies declared independence from the British Crown, some of these tribes felt a loyalty to the British against the rebelling colonies because the British had prohibited the colonists from settling their land. Other tribes allied to the colonies and fought against Britain. These tribes fought in fierce battles on both sides.


"The Broken Chain" stars Eric Schweig as Thayendanega, a Mohawk chief who also went by the English name of Joseph Brandt. His friend Lohaheo, played by J.C. White Shirt, is another Mohawk leader. Pierce Brosnan plays Sir William Johnson, a British agent. Buffy Sainte-Maric has a small part as the matriarch of a Native American clan. Wes Studi rounds out the supporting cast as the spokesperson for the Six Nations who acts as an intermediary between the united tribes and the British and Americans.

Background and Rising Action

The movie begins in the aftermath of the French and Indian War. Brandt has returned to his tribe after receiving a British education. A few flashbacks reveal his friendship since childhood with Lohaheo. American Colonists have begun defying the British law against expanding westward into Native American lands. This expansion causes consternation amongst the tribes and hostility with the British. The Revolutionary War breaks out, and this warfare threatens the lives of the Native Americans.

Conflicts and Resolution

While Lohaheo urges that the Six Nations remain unallied to either side during the Revolutionary War, Brandt decides to fight with his tribe on the side of the British. Johnson attempts to manipulate the remaining tribes to fighting for the Crown. He had fought with the Native Americans during the French and Indian War, but puts aside his admiration for their way of life in order to help England defeat the colonists. Brandt fights in two important battles against the colonial forces. When the colonies win the war, Brandt must return to his people.

About the Author

Since 2005, James Rutter has worked as a freelance journalist for print and Internet publications, including the “News of Delaware County,” “Main Line Times” and Broad Street Review. As a former chemist, college professor and competitive weightlifter, he writes about science, education and exercise. Rutter earned a B.A. in philosophy and biology from Albright College and studied philosophy and cognitive science at Temple University.

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