Dances with Wolves

1990 film directed by Kevin Costner

Dances with Wolves is a 1990 film about a man who is exiled to a remote western Civil War outpost, where he befriends wolves and Indians, making him an intolerable aberration in the military.

Directed by Kevin Costner. Written by Michael Blake, based on his novel.
Inside everyone is a frontier waiting to be discovered. (taglines)

John Dunbar

  • The strangeness of this life cannot be measured: in trying to produce my own death, I was elevated to the status of a living hero.
  • [voiceover] It seems every day ends with a miracle here. And whatever God may be, I thank God for this day.
  • [voiceover] Many times I'd felt alone, but until this afternoon I'd never felt completely lonely.
  • Nothing I have been told about these people is correct. They are not thieves or beggars. They are not the bogeymen they are made out to be. On the contrary, they are polite guests and I enjoy their humor.
  • I had never really known who John Dunbar was. Perhaps because the name itself had no meaning. But as I heard my Sioux name being called over and over, I knew for the first time who I really was.
  • It was hard to know how to feel. I had never been in a battle like this one. This had not been a fight for territory or riches or to make men free. This battle had no ego. It had been fought to preserve the food stores that would see us through winter, to protect the lives of women and children and loved ones only a few feet away. I felt a pride I had never felt before.
  • [to his army captors who are interrogating him, in Lakota] My name is Dances with Wolves. I will not talk to you anymore. You are not worth talking to.

Wind In His Hair

  • We will shoot some arrows into the white man. If he truly has medicine, he will not be hurt. If he has no medicine, he will be dead.
  • Dances With Wolves. I am Wind In His Hair. Do you see that I am your friend? Can you see that you will always be my friend?

Ten Bears

  • [in Lakota, showing Dunbar an old Spanish Conquistador's helmet] The white men who wore this came around the time of my grandfather's grandfather. Eventually we drove them out. Then the Mexicans came. But they do not come here any more. In my own time, the Texans. They have been like all the others. They take without asking. I don't know if we are ready for these people. But I think you are right. I think they will keep coming. When I think of that, I look at this helmet. Our country is all that we have, and we will fight to keep it.
  • You are the only white man I have ever known. I have thought about you a lot. More than you think. And I understand your concern. But I think you are wrong. The white man the soldiers are looking for no longer exists. Now there is only a Sioux named Dances With Wolves... Let us smoke a while.


  • Somebuddy poked me in my butt...was dat you?
  • Please don't hurt my mules!
  • He He, Put that in your book!
  • I'll bet someone back east is going, 'Now why don't he write?


Thirteen years later - their homes destroyed, their buffalo gone - the last band of free Sioux submitted to white authority at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. The great horse culture of the plains was gone, and the American frontier was soon to pass into history.


Major Fambrough: [reading orders] Lieutenant John J. Dunbar. [pauses, looks up] Lieutenant John J. Dunbar?
John Dunbar: Yes, sir.
Major Fambrough: Yes, sir. [pause] Indian fighter?
John Dunbar: Excuse me?
Major Fambrough: You're to be posted on the Frontier. The Frontier is Indian country. I deduced that you're an Indian fighter. I didn't rise to this position by being stupid.
John Dunbar: No, sir.
Major Fambrough: No sir. [pause] It says here that you've been decorated.
John Dunbar: Yes, sir.
Major Fambrough: And they've sent you here to be posted?
John Dunbar: I'm here at my own request.
Major Fambrough: Really? Why?
John Dunbar: I've always wanted to see the frontier.
Major Fambrough: See the frontier--
John Dunbar: Yes, sir. Before it's gone.
Major Fambrough: [taking a sheet of paper from the desk drawer, the sound of liquor bottles clinking as he does so] Such a smart lad, coming straight to me. [scribbling with a quill pen] Sir...Knight, I am sending you on a knight's errand. You will report to Captain Cargill, at the furthermost outpost of the realm, Fort Sedgewick. My personal seal [scribbling] will assure your safety [scribbling furiously] through many miles of wild and hostile country. [He folds the letter into an impossibly tiny square and hands it to Lt. Dunbar]
John Dunbar: [taking the note] I was wondering--
Major Fambrough: Yes?
John Dunbar: How will I be getting there?
Major Fambrough: You think I don't know?
John Dunbar: No, sir, it's just that I don't know--
Major Fambrough: Hold your tongue. [pause] I happen to be in a generous mood and I will grant you a boon. [gestures to the window] See that peasant out there? He calls himself Timmons. He is going to Fort Sedgwick this very afternoon. You may ride with him. He knows the way. That is all.
[Dunbar turns to leave. When he gets to the door, the Major calls to him]
Major Fambrough: Sir Knight?
[Dunbar turns as the Major stands, a dark stain on the front of his trousers]
Major Fambrough: I've just pissed my pants...and no one can do anything about it.

John Dunbar: [at the celebration of the buffalo feast, noticing a big Sioux man has his Lieutenant's hat] That's my hat... that's my hat!
Big Warrior: [in Lakota, as all becomes quiet in the tent] I found it on the prairie. It's mine.
Wind In His Hair: [stands up, in Lakota] The hat belongs to Lieutenant.
Big Warrior: He left it on the prairie. He didn't want it.
Wind In His Hair: Well, you can see he wants it now. We all know it's a soldier hat. We all know who wears it. If you want to keep it, that's fine. But give something for it.
[the Sioux takes his knife and sheath off his belt and gives it to Dunbar]
Wind In His Hair: [in English, to Dunbar] Good... trade!

Ten Bears: Let us smoke a while.
John Dunbar: [voiceover] With Ten Bears, it was always more than a while. There was purpose in everything he did, and I knew he wanted me to stay. But I was sure of myself. I would be an excuse, and that's all the Army would need to find this place. I pushed him as far as I could to move the camp. But in the end, he only smiled and talked of simple pleasures. He reminded me that at his age, a good fire was better than anything. Ten Bears was an extraordinary man.

Stands With a Fist: [explaining how she got her name] I worked every day... very hard... there was a woman who didn't like me. She called me bad names... sometimes she beat me. One day she was calling me these bad names, her face in my face, and I hit her. I was not very big, but she fell down. She fell hard and didn't move. I stood over her with my fist and asked if any other woman wanted to call me bad names... No one bothered me after that day.
John Dunbar: [smiles] I wouldn't think so.

John Dunbar: We are trying for a baby.
Kicking Bird: No waiting?
John Dunbar: No waiting.
Kicking Bird: I was just thinking that of all the trails in this life, there are some that matter most. It is the trail of a true human being. I think you are on this trail, and it is good to see.
  • Full quote from novel: "There are many trails in this life, but the one that matters most, few men are able to walk...even Comanche men. It is the trail of a true human being. I think you are on this trail. It is a good thing for me to see. It is good for my heart." Ch. XXVIII, one, p. 345.

Toughest Pawnee: Only a white man would make a fire for everyone to see.
Pawnee #1: Maybe there's more than one.
Pawnee #2: There may be three or four.
Toughest Pawnee: I know three or four who will not be making the trip home.


  • Inside everyone is a frontier waiting to be discovered.
  • The journey begins this November. Discover it for yourself.
  • Lt. John Dunbar is about to discover the frontier...within himself.

Quotes about Dances with Wolves

  • Five hundred years later, Native peoples are still fighting to protect their lands and their rights to exist as distinct political communities and individuals. Most US citizens' knowledge about Indians is inaccurate, distorted, or limited to elementary-school textbooks, cheesy old spaghetti westerns, or more contemporary films like Dances with Wolves or The Last of the Mohicans.


Wikipedia has an article about: