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This first episode in filmmakers Ken Burns and Stephen Ives' epic nine-part series focuses on the various peoples who inhabited or desired the lands of the West prior to 1806. From the natives whose identity and culture were continuous with the vast, rugged landscapes -- the Comanches, the Hidatsas, the Zunis, the Kiowa -- to the explorers coming in search of glory for God and country, these are tales of origin, myth, ownership, and the collision of worlds. Director Ives uses memoirs, journals, letters, and breathtaking live cinematography to recreate the spirit and tumult of a time when the seductive freedom and wilderness of the Western landscape -- not to mention the souls of its people -- were put up for grabs. A startling glimpse into America's rocky past and an invaluable tool for educators. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie GuideEpisode Two of director Stephen Ives' ambitious documentary covers the years from 1806 to 1848. Once Lewis and Clark's Corps of Discovery had mapped the unknown regions between the Mississippi and the Pacific, droves of fur trappers, itinerant adventurers, and experimental communities took to the trails and headed west. Empire Upon the Trails explores this archetypal American journey, and carefully examines the facts and personal stories behind such mythic events as the Trail of Tears, the defending of the Alamo, the Mormons' flight to Utah under Brigham Young, and the bloody Mexican-American War. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie GuideBy 1848 the United States had -- through negotiations, border skirmishes, full-blown war, and an intimidating belief in Manifest Destiny -- seized the West and became a continental nation, at least on paper. Then the word came that men in California had discovered gold. The Speck of the Future, Episode Three in director Stephen Ives's nine-part epic, covers the years from 1848 to 1856, when the American West quickly became the world's destination spot. Under greed's intoxicating influence, everyone from Chinese peasants and Mexican laborers to Latin American aristocrats and New York's boy next door fled westward and established a new kind of American community -- based on exploitation as much as mutual need. Ives has gathered archival photos, diaries, letters, and interviews with expert scholars to explore the myriad ways in which the Gold Rush forever altered the course of our history. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie GuideEpisode Four of director Stephen Ives' epic series covers the period from 1856 to 1868 -- during which the new communities of the West found themselves racked by divisive hatreds and social unrest. The boom was far outpacing any government attempts to regulate the new territories from Washington, so the outlaw justice that would fuel so much of our mythology about the West reigned. Local leaders fought bitterly over the issue of slavery -- which would also be an important contributor to the civil war exploding back east -- and self-governing communities obsessed with maintaining their land and their absolute freedom were at each other's throats. Specific topics include: the Civil War battle at Glorietta Pass, the Mountain Meadows massacre in Utah, the 1864 massacre of a Cheyenne camp by Colonel John Chivington, Juan Cortina's attempted revolt against American power in Texas, a young Samuel Clemens' infatuation with the Western landscape, and the beginning of Custer's campaign against Native American warriors. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie GuideIn the tumultuous history of the American West, gloriously chronicled by this epic nine-part series, there are many events that "changed everything." Episode five, covering the years from 1868 to 1874, explores what is undoubtedly the biggest of these big events -- the building of the Pacific railroad. Stretching from Omaha to Sacramento, this incredible feat of engineering and hubris utterly transformed the lands it connected -- previously remote prairies, suddenly there for the taking, attracted peasant farmers who began to plant wheat; cattle ranchers transported their vast herds to markets in the east; swaggering buffalo hunters pillaged native lands; Abilene, Wichita, and Dodge became boom towns. Furthermore, thanks to the increased pace of commerce and the easy accessibility between coasts, the United States became a real contender for world power. Specific topics in this volume include: the politics of funding and commissioning the railroad project, the recruitment of Chinese labor and the appalling death toll, Charles Goodnight and the birth of the cattle-driving industry, the national celebration at the driving in of the final stake, Emmeline Wells and the winning of women's suffrage in Utah, the loneliness and determination of foreign immigrants, and of course, cowboys. The documentary features firsthand accounts such as diaries and letters, as well as interviews with historians and cultural experts, and stunning cinematography of the still-untamed West. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie GuideEpisode Six in producer Ken Burns' epic series chronicles the short and tragic period from 1874 through 1877, when the reality of a centralized federal power began to collide with the dream of a wild Western freedom. Regulators in Washington, possessed of formidable armies, cracked down harshly on the Lakota and Cheyenne in the Black Hills, the Nez Perce in modern-day Idaho and Oregon, and the Mormons in Utah -- all at a time when the country was celebrating 100 years of independence from British oppression. Specific topics include: Sitting Bull (Tatanka-Iyotanka) and his rallying of Native American forces, America's betrayal of the Fort Laramie Treaty, the daily life of an army soldier charged with patrolling and defending the West, the Battle of Little Bighorn, the execution of John D. Lee, and the forced exile of Chief Joseph and his Nez Perce. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie GuideEpisode Seven of director Stephen Ives' nine-part series on the West chronicles a decade with equal measures of hope and hardship. By 1877, the continent seemed firmly conquered -- whites outnumbered Native Americans 40 to 1, and several seasons of unusually heavy rainfall made it seem as though industrious farmers had actually turned "the Great American desert" into arable farmland. Former slaves, calling themselves "Exodusters," migrated en masse to Kansas amidst refrains about the promised land. But in the early 1880's, economic depression led to increasing tension between differing racial and religious groups. In 1882 Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which prohibited immigration from China for the next ten years. That same year, polygamy was declared a federal crime -- a calculated blow to the powerful Mormon community in Utah. Race riots broke out in California, Wyoming, and Washington state. Native American children were shipped off to eastern boarding schools, forbidden to speak their own tongue, and taught to think and act like whites. In the midst of this shameful era, however, Geography of Hope also catalogues the enduring seductiveness and ever-growing myth of the West by profiling swashbucklers like Teddy Roosevelt and William F. Cody -- better known as Buffalo Bill. Like every period in this colorful history, the decade from 1877-1887 tells a tale of human victory, human cruelty and self-defeat, and surprising flashes of humor and spirit. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie GuideThe ninth volume of Ken Burns and Stephen Ives' The West covers the years from 1887 to 1914. At the dawn of a new century, after having seen earthshaking changes and terrible strife, the American West was more or less settled -- only five generations had passed since the Louisiana Purchase, and already the lands beyond the Mississippi were dotted with industrialized towns, prosperous farms, and vast herds of cattle. The West still had many surprises up its sleeve, but its fate was now inextricably tied to that of the Eastern states -- the United States had finally become one nation. Specific topics include: the Oklahoma land rush; the Dawes Act and the legal divvying up of Indian land; turn-of-the-century life in towns like Guthrie, Oklahoma and Butte, Montana; Sitting Bull's murder and the massacre of the Lakota; the Columbian Exposition of 1893; the courtship and marriage of homesteaders John G. Love and Ethel Waxham; William Mulholland's aqueduct and the Los Angeles water supply; Mariano Vallejo and his fight to preserve the Mexican legacy in California; Charles Goodnight and the problem of how to record the West's history on film; and the labored process of adaptation and forgiveness among native peoples. Told through first-hand accounts as well as moving testimony from the descendents of the West's greatest figures, this tribute to the dreams and the eternal promise of a nation is both a landmark documentary and an invaluable tool for the teaching of balanced and relevant history. ~ Sarah Welsh, All Movie GuideThe West, a nine-part documentary created for public television, was more than five years in the making. From acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns and award-winning documentarian Stephen Ives, this comprehensive series takes an honest look at the taming of the land by unveiling its myths, inequities, and exploitations, while still embracing the heroics and adventures of this momentous period in American history. The West: Ghost Dance, Vol. 8 covers the years 1887 to 1914 when the West was rapidly developing its industrial forces. The episode traces events from the Oklahoma Land Rush to the rise of mining towns such as Butte, Montana. It examines the displacement of the Native American people, and includes a segment on the horrific 1890 Battle of Wounded Knee. Ghost Dance takes its title from a ceremonial ritual that Native Americans performed during this period in hopes of restoring the lost era of the buffalo. Other tapes in the series include The People, Empire Upon the Trails, Speck of the Future, Death Runs Riots, The Grandest Enterprise Under God, Fight No More Forever, The Geography of Hope and One Sky Above Us.
Related collections and offers
The Making of The West; Trivia on the West; Interactive maps