A nine-year-old boy (Joseph Ashton) descended from European and Native Americans goes to live in the mountains of Tennessee with his grandparents after his parents die. Little Tree's spiritual and day-to-day life is enriched by his Cherokee heritage, but he comes into conflict with people who want to erase it in this leisurely paced drama that convincingly spans a long period of time by showing small events as well as big ones. The stunning performances and director Richard Friedenberg's obvious passion for the story—and for the natural world in which much of it is set—cushion the us-against-the-bureaucracy theme without blunting it. Friedenberg adapted the 1986 novel by Forrest Carter. With James Cromwell, Tantoo Cardinal, and Graham Greene.