Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The Yaqui was the sort of film that was bluntly described in the trade journals of the time as a "Redskin Melodrama." Based on Dane Coolidge's novel The Land of the Broken Promise, the story focuses on Yaqui Indian chief Tambor, played with flint-eyed stoicism by Hobart Bosworth. Indian-hating General Martinez (Jack Curtis) deliberately goads Tambor into a quarrel so as to have an excuse to sell the chief's tribe into slavery. The plan succeeds, and Tambor is separated from his wife (Golda Caldwell) and daughter (Dorothy Clark), who are farmed out to a Yucatan forced-labor camp. Somehow, Tambor manages to join his family in their bondage, only to endure the death of his daughter from illness and the suicide of his wife. Killing the white slaveowner responsible for these tragedies, Tambor becomes a "renegade," fomenting a Yaqui rebellion against the despotic Martinez. Contrary to popular belief, many silent westerns, The Yaqui included, took the side of the Indians in their struggle against white oppression.