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Cowboys and Indians: The J.J. Harper Story (2003)

J.J. Harper, a First Nations chief, is gunned down by police constable Robert Cross on his way home one snowy night in downtown Winnipeg.


Norma Bailey
1 win & 8 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Adam Beach ... J.J. Harper
Eric Schweig ... Harry Wood
Currie Graham ... Constable Robert Cross
Garry Chalk ... Inspector Ken Dowson
Gordon Tootoosis ... James Harper
Michael Lawrenchuk ... Joe
Jack Blum ... Harvey Pollock
Richard Hurst Richard Hurst ... Chief of Police Herb Stephen
Joy Keeper Joy Keeper ... Winona
B. Pat Burns B. Pat Burns ... Gordon Sinclair
Jonas Chernick ... Constable Bill Issac
David Lawrence Brown ... Detective Spooner (as David Brown)
Will Woytowich ... Constable Buckman
David Gillies David Gillies ... Attorney Morton
Paul Christie Paul Christie ... Sergeant Osepchuk


Winnipeg, March, 1988. In the dark wee hours of the morning, the police, with only vague descriptions of the suspects, are in active pursuit of two perpetrators of a robbery. In that pursuit, Constable Robert Cross confronts a native Indian man who ends up having nothing to do with the robbery, but who Cross shoots dead in the ensuing confrontation. That man is John Joseph Harper - J.J. - who was just in the wrong place at the wrong time as he was walking home from a night out with friends at a bar. The problem for the police is that J.J. is the well respected Chief of the Northern Lakes Reserve and recently named Executive Director of the Aboriginal Tribal Council. However, there are no eyewitnesses to the actual shooting, and thus Cross is able to have his account as the one and only in the public consciousness, which he states includes J.J. grabbing for his gun, which resulted in the shooting for Cross to protect himself. In private, Cross is slowly unraveling mentally about his ... Written by Huggo

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English | Cree

Release Date:

5 October 2003 (Canada) See more »

Filming Locations:

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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Did You Know?


J.J. Harper: I don't need to show you any freakin' ID.
See more »


References Bonanza (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

My thoughts on the JJ Harper murder
23 January 2006 | by babylamSee all my reviews

I grew up in Winnipeg and saw the treatment of the natives almost everyday. There are good and bad in EVERY race, why make them all out to be bad? That goes for all races today. John Harper was an educated man, he graduated from high school, he even had a year of university under his belt before going back to the reserve. How do I know this? John Harper lived with my family for the 3 years he was in high school, and he kept in contact with us the year after graduation. He was a kind and gentle soul, he could be fun loving and he could be serious when the times were right. I wasn't very old when he left our house, but I can still remember all the times he helped me with my homework when my own brother couldn't be bothered. He even taught grade 3 the year before he came to Winnipeg. None of this is mentioned in the movie, and the suicide of constable cross is an admission of guilt as far as I'm concerned. What happened to John is unforgivable, not only in the native community, but also in the white community. Not everyone in Winnipeg think like the police do, I knew the person inside, and what he was like as a PERSON, not an Indian!

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