Into the West (2005)




Director:     Robert Dornhelm, Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, Jeremy Podeswa, Timothy Van Patten, Michael W. Watkins, Simon Wincer.

Starring:     Joseph M. Marshall (Old Indian), Irene Bedard (Margaret Light Shines Wheeler), Gil Birmingham (Older Dog Star), John Terry (Older Jacob Wheeler), Ricardo Andres (Artillery Major), Tonantzin Carmelo (Thunder Heart Woman), Tyler Christopher (Jacob Wheeler Jr.), Rachael Leigh Cook (Clara Wheeler), Zahn McClarnon (Running Fox), Sheila Tousey (Older Thunder Heart Woman), Russell Means (Older Running Fox), Matthew Settle (Jacob Wheeler), Michael Spears ( Dog Star), Skeet Ulrich (Jethro Wheeler), Raoul Trujillo (Red Cloud), David Midthunder (White Crow), Nathan Lee Chasing His Horse (Sleeping Bear), Tinsel Korey (Bluebird).

TV mini-series about the West from perspectives of a white settler family and a native American family.



Spoiler Warning:


Episode 1.  Wheel to the Stars. 

A Lakota (Sioux) story teller says to a group of listeners:  "The White Man called them buffalo.  We called them Tatanka: the majestic ones. Their story is the story of our people."

Flashback.  Lakota Village 1825.  Growling Bear had a vision that the buffalo would disappear and the Lakota would live in square houses. 

Wheelerton, Virginia, 1825.  Grandsire Abraham lost a leg at the Battle of Yorktown in the American Revolution.  The family were wheelwrights going back many generations.  The narrator, Jacob Wheeler, however, as a boy dreamed of a better life beyond the Mississippi River.  Jacob often gets himself in trouble with the family for being distracted from his work by thinking too much about the western lands. 

One day a mountain man comes into the shop to get his rifle fixed.  Jacob asks him where he got that scar on his forehead, and the man says he got into an argument with a Cheyenne warrior.  Apparently, the man won the argument because he shows Jacob the warrior's scalp hanging from his belt.  Jacob comments that the west must be a rough place to live, but the mountain man says the land out west is more like the Garden of Eden. 

The family comes back from their lunch and start criticizing Jacob again, but the mountain man says that Jacob is a fine boy.  They ask the man where's he headed to?  He's heading over to St. Louis to meet up with mountain man Jedediah Smith.  Jacob recognizes the name and the mountain man says that Mr. Smith opened up the deep West for trappers. 

The Lakota village.  Heyoka, the clown, tries to lift the spirits of the women after they heard about Growling Bear's dark vision.  A young boy named White Feather asks his grandfather if the dark vision is true?  The family doesn't want to talk about the vision and White Feather has to drop the subject.  Later he goes to ask Growling Bear himself, who tells White Feather that long ago another man had a similar vision..

Back in Wheelerton, at night Jacob rides off.  Two of his brothers on their horses race after Jacob.  Nathan and Jethro catch up with Jacob, but soon Nathan decides to go west with Jacob.  Jethro stays behind. 

The tribe chase the buffalo into a trap by leading and scaring them to the edge of a cliff.  Many of the buffalo fall over the edge of the cliff to their deaths, but a group turns away from the cliff and starts heading toward a group of the villagers not far away from them.  White Feather is among the group.  He suddenly has a vision.  He sees a buffalo about to run him over, but then the buffalo just stops right in front of him.  The buffalo just stares at White Feather, but then he turns into Growling Bear.  After the buffalo have passed by, White Feather is still standing, but he finds the trampled villagers laying dead all around him. 

Growling Bear narrates that Tatanka spared the boy.  On the day his mother was laid to rest, White Feather was renamed "Loved by the Buffalo".  He also was chosen to become a medicine man.  He had to stay for four days in a small buffalo tent with no food or drink.  He cleanses himself to open his body for another vision. 

Three months later in Tennessee.  Jacob and Nathan wait until dark and then they steal some eggs and eat their contents raw in the chicken coop.  There's a black man hiding in the chicken coop and he grabs Nathan around the neck.  Jacob puts his knife to the throat of the black man and tells him to let go of his brother.  They make such a ruckus in the chicken coop that the farm owner comes into the coop with his shotgun.  He demands to know how many of them are there here and Jacob says there's just two of them.  Jacob is a good talker and he also takes the blame for doing something he admits is wrong, and the farmer believes Jacob's story and says if Jacob just would have asked at the farm house he would have given them the eggs. 

The farmer says he was hoping he would find the runaway slave in the chicken coop.  There's a reward of a hundred dollars for the capture and return of the slave.  Nathan is about to give up the slave, but Jacob stops him and rushes him out of the coop as both fellows thank the farmer for his kindness.  Nathan yells at Jacob for turning down a hundred dollars and he plans to go back and get the money by capturing the slave.   Jacob tries to stop him, but Nathan is bigger and he overpowers his smaller brother.  He has the rifle and starts walking to the chicken coop, but just then they hear a shotgun shot and the farmer yelling at the escaping slave.   The slave gets away. 

St. Louis, Missouri, 1826.  Jacob and Nathan finally reach St. Louis.  Then it takes them awhile to run into the mountain man, Mr. Fletcher.  They are so happy about finding Fletcher, but he tells them that what he needs is mountain men  --  men who are more Indian than white and can speak Apache, Cheyenne and Mexican.  And boy are they mad when they get turned down.  Nathan goes to the saloon and wins quite a bit of money at playing cards.  And he won a Spanish land deed.  It's a hundred acres in Tejas (Texas).  Jacob says Texas isn't even a part of the United States.  He also says that in Texas they don't speak English and they're Catholics.

Nathan goes south and Jacob goes west.  Jacob buys some old mountain men type clothes and a horse and sets out to find Jedediah Smith.  He catches up with Jedediah and with Mr. Fletcher.  Jedediah asks the boy if he has ever killed a man?  No.  Then the boy must go back home and no one will think the worst of him.  Jacob has a good, determined response to Jedediah's question and they decide to take Jacob with them.  Jacob is absolutely thrilled by this turn of events. 

Loved by the Buffalo discovered he had the power to take another person's pain into his own body.  After he took on the pain, he would vomit outside the tents.  A white trader known as Labeck brings goods to trade for animal pelts from the Lakota.  Labeck wants to give the village more goods if he can marry a woman of the tribe. Her name is Thunder Heart Woman.  Loved by the Buffalo gives his sister the medicine wheel that Growling Bear had given to him.  In the medicine wheel sister would keep her family and her memories. 

Jacob loves traveling with the mountain men because he sees the west as few white men have seen it.  He goes into Colorado with the men.  They get attacked by a grizzly bear, and the bear partially scalps Jedediah Smith.  Mr. Fletcher finishes off the bear, saving Smith's life.  Smith trusts Jacob so much that he gives Jacob the task of sewing his scalp back in place on his head.  Jacob hates doing the job, but he does it.  Smith apologizes for the task hurting Jacob mentally so much. 

Montana Territory.  Labeck and his wife work on catching and processing beaver and their pelts.  Thunder Heart Woman is very pregnant by now.  As part of fulfilling the requirements of being a medicine man, Loved by the Buffalo, carries rocks from a valley all the way to the top of a mountain where he makes a large rock pattern on the ground of a medicine wheel. 

Sierra Nevadas.  The mountain men go over the Sierra Nevadas to California.  There they met up with the Mojave Indians.  Mr. Smith purchases horses to replace the horses that the men had to consume.  The Mojave have the white men drink their beverage known as Maricopa.  The Indians also give the white men their women.  This bothers Jacob and he skips out on that part of the party.  He goes up to speak with Jedediah, who gives him some advice about not losing his way along this journey and a book with empty pages that will serve as Jacob's journal. 

Labeck and his wife along with their baby spot a group of Crow warriors.  They do their best not to be spotted by the warriors.  At night the wife hears some night calls and suspects the Crow are near.  Her husband gets his pistol and opens the door to go out.   Labeck is hit by an arrow, but manages to shoot the man who shot him.  Then Labeck is hit by another arrow and goes down.  They take the baby from the mother and Thunder Heart Woman is sexually assaulted. 

The Pacific Ocean, California.  Smith and his men reach the Pacific Ocean.  The Mexicans come upon the group and take the group into custody.

San Gabriel Mission, San Gabriel, California.  [Northeast of today's downtown Los Angeles.]  The Mexican Captain takes Smith to see the Governor of California.  The Captain explains to the governor that Smith says they bought the horses from the Indians.  The Governor sees the appearance of the Americans a a bad thing because this is the first time they have come to California by land. 

For selling horses to the Americans, the Mexicans start executing Mojave Indians to teach the natives a lesson not to trade with the Americans.  Smith comes to see the men with a message from the Governor.  The Americans can depart, but they must never return to California on pain of death.  The group starts heading east. 

White Buffalo Woman has taught the Lakota the sun dance.  The braves hang from a rope tied to cuts in their chest skin.  From this many of the men have strong visions. 

Sierra Nevadas.  Once the Mojave were friendly, but after the village was attacked by a group of Americans, they were no longer friendly.  They attack Smith's camp.  The men are overrun by the Mojave.  Smith, Fletcher and Jacob hide in a cave in the mountains.  Some of the Indians charge the cave, but they are all killed.  Now the Mojave try to light fires to smoke the white men out of the cave.  They charge again and again until the Indians are killed.  Jacob kills his first human being.  Fletcher gets a mortal wound and says for the others to go out the back entrance to the cave, while he holds off the Mojave.  Getting out the back way, however, is tougher than getting into the main entrance to the cave.  Jacob is deathly afraid of the enclosed spaces he has to crawl through the back exit.   Smith saves Jacob by keeping up his spirits and not giving up. 

Loved by the Buffalo has his vision through the sun dance. 

Smith and Jacob get out of the cave. 

Loved by the Buffalo's vision in a dark one and is rejected by those who listen to it. 

Small pox afflicts the Lakota.  Loved by the Buffalo is stricken with the disease.  The medicine man, Soaring Eagle, takes the boy away from the camp and when Loved by the Buffalo falls form his horse, the older man abandons him to his fate.  The sick young man has another vision of Growling Bear appearing first as a buffalo and then as himself.  The wise man tells Loved by the Buffalo that he must fight to survive for he was born to live a life to help the Lakota. Later Loved by the Buffalo is saved by Running Fox and his horse. 

Utah 1829.  Jacob attends the Rendezvous in Utah.  There are many contests of strength and speed, along with lots of trading of goods, and plenty of both white and red men.  And at the Rendezvous Jacob Wheeler meets up with that escaped slave named Ben Franklin.  The two men have a happy reunion.  Also at the Rendezvous is Thunder Heart Woman, the widow of Labeck.  The woman is to be sold to the highest bitter.  The older man who wants the woman is irritated by Jacob upping the amount of money, so the man challenges Jacob to a shoot out with rifles at 20 paces.  Jacob wins the contest and gets the woman.  He has already promised to take her back to her people.  Thunder Heart Woman lets Jacob wear her medicine wheel around his neck. 

At the camp at night, Thunder Heart Woman cries about her baby girl that the Crow took from her.  Jacob tries to comfort her. 

Loved by the Buffalo is worried that Soaring Eagle wants to kill him.  In another vision he listens to Growling Bear tell him that perhaps he should strike out on his own for awhile.  The young man tells Growling Bear that he wants to remain with his tribe.

Thunder Heart Woman followed by Jacob arrive at the Lakota village.  Jacob asks Thunder Heart Woman to tell her father that the only thing he wants from him is permission to marry his daughter.  The woman tells him that sometimes people who want to marry travel alone together for two weeks and then they are considered married.  Jacob says they already did that.  That's right and they are now considered married by the tribe.  The Lakota accept Jacob and Jacob knows that certainly his family would not give his wife the same reception.  He also wonders why he feels so at home here with the Lakota. 

Later Jacob meets Loved by the Buffalo.  Jacob narrates that when the two met, he strangely felt like they already knew each other.  Perhaps due to the medicine wheel Jacob wears?

Jacob the wheelwright fixes a wheel on a wagon traded from the white men.  Loved by the Buffalo feels a bit uneasy about the wheel, remembering Growling Bear's vision of the whites chasing away the buffalo and the Lakota people suffering as a result. 

Loved by the Buffalo leaves his people so that he might live for all the people.  He wants to change the dark vision of Growling Bear. 


Episode 2.  Manifest Destiny. 

Lakota Village, Buffalo Nation, 1836.  The Lakota people were not trading much with the whites.  Other tribes, such as the Crow and Cheyenne, traded a great deal with the whites.  The Crow and other enemies started to gain an advantage over the Lakota people.  The trading tribes, for instance, got the latest rifles with improvements.  So one part of the tribe that wants to trade with the whites, and led by Running Fox, breaks off from the Lakota and travels to Fort William (later known as Fort Laramie in Wyoming). 

Wheelerton, Virginia.  Jacob takes his wife and small daughter to Wheelerton so his daughter Margaret Light Shines, would know something of her father's world.  They stop at the Wheeler house.  Jacob is confronted by Naomi Wheeler who is his cousin.  She holds a rifle on him saying that they don't know any Indians.  Jacob asks her name and figures out she is one of his cousins. He tells her who he is. 

Back home with the family, Jacob is told that his brother Nathan is still down in Texas and married to a Mexican woman.  Jacob says he wants to stay and become a wheelwright if father would allow him to do that.  Father accepts Jacob back in the fold. 

Thunder Heart Woman gives birth to a boy.  Jacob names the boy after his grandfather, Abraham.  His Indian name is High Wolf. 

Running Fox goes to trade with the whites at Fort William.  He's not that impressed by the white man's ways. 

The newspapers bring the news that Jedediah Smith was killed by the Comanche.  This is a blow to Jacob.  He tells his wife that he wants to go back out west.  Brother Jethro decides to go west with Jacob.  As they leave Wheelerton, Rachel chases after them saying she's going west too.  And following after Rachel is Naomi and her friend Leah. 

Western Plains, 1837.  Running Fox and a small group meet up with another tribe.  The leader of the other group says that this is not Lakota territory.  Running Fox says all they want is the buffalo, not the land.  He and his group rides away.  He is followed by the other tribe and one of the Sioux warriors is killed by a rifle bullet.   There's not much Running Fox can do, since his men have so few rifles.  So Running Fox trades four ponies for eight muskets. 

Independence, Missouri.  It takes the Wheelers three years to arrive at Independence.  In that time, Jacob has another boy, who he names Jacob, Jr.  When they get there, they meet a huckster named Stephen Hoxie. Jacob comments:  "Wagon master Hoxie was a regular Napoleon of the plains.  Wanted everybody to call him 'Captain' even though he'd never been near a uniform.  His hired pilot was a frontiersman by the name of Josiah Bell.  And there were two scouts, Meeks and Skate."  Thunder Heart Woman doesn't trust the leaders of the wagon train and suggests that they go back to Independence, but Jacob says they will continue forward. 

Crossing a river a couple of the wagon turn over.  Leah falls out of the wagon and drowns.  She is buried near the river.  Naomi and Rachel now want to go back home. 

A storm comes on and the wagons are brought close together in another circle.  Lightning strikes sending a tree down on a wagon.  The horses in the middle of the wagon enclosure get spooked and run away.  Cattle stomp and kill a small black boy. 

The next morning the horses are rounded up and brought back.  And now the wagons get stuck in the heavy mud. 

One of the scouts, Meeks, asks Rachel to marry him and she says yes. 

Now they go through and across mountains.  Rachel marries.  Skate maries marries Naomi. 

A camp of Lakota is hit by Crow warriors.  All the teepees are burned to the ground and there are no signs of any surviving people.   Now that the Crow have the advantage of many rifles, they are readily attacking and destroying Lakota villages. 

Wagons are slowly being lowered down a hill.  One of the ropes on a wagon breaks and the wagon rushes down hill and knocks down and runs over Rachel.  She has a compound fracture in her right leg.  Gangrene sets in.  They amputate her right leg above the knee.  Rachel dies. 

Dog Star speaks with his brother Loved by the Buffalo.  He had argued against Running Fox's call for adaptation to some of the ways of the whites, but after the recent massacre, he is not so sure of his stand.  He asks Loved by the Buffalo if he was wrong in insisting on no adaptation of the whites' ways, and Loved by the Buffalo says no his brother was not wrong. 

The mother of the boy who was trampled to death, now dies of what they think is cholera.  Jacob and his family along with Jethro and the unlucky Jones family are quarantined and have to stay far behind the rest of the wagon train.  Jethro gets sick, but by the next day he is better. 

Jacob rides ahead to catch up with the wagon train  He finds the wagon train burned down and everyone dead.  He can't find Naomi's body, so he's thinking the Indians took Naomi with them.  He hurries back to his family and gets there just a little bit ahead of the oncoming Cheyenne warriors.  Thank goodness there are only a few braves.  Most of them are killed by the pioneers.  Jacob gets an arrow in his back with the arrowhead hanging out of his chest.  His wife and brother remove the arrow from his body. 

Cheyenne Camp.  Naomi is in the camp.  An old woman says her name is now Five Horses.  At night a warrior is going to have sex with her, but she starts saying the tale of Little Miss Muffet who sat on a tuffet.  Perhaps the man thinks she's crazy because he getss up and goes away.  When he meets with the medicine man and other, she recites many Mother Goose rhymes and the medicine man believes that she is channeling evil spirits with the rhymes. 

The small wagon train of one wagon now moves on.  But the rocking and rolling of the wagon produces so much pain in the wounded Jacob that he absolutely insists to be allowed to stay behind and heal.  He says he will catch up with them later.  So they leave him behind. 

Naomi gets sick.  A little girl dies, probably of cholera.  Naomi tells the father that she is sorry about his child. 

Running Fox comes upon Jacob.  For three days, he and his band cared for Jacob.  Soon Jacob starts again on his long journey. 

Winter comes and goes. 

California 1841.  From a mountainous area the remnants of the wagon train catch a beautiful view of a large valley before them. 

A warrior, Howling Coyote, wants to trade Prairie Fire nine horses for Five Horses in order to have Naomi.  Prairie Fire says no, and he keeps saying no until Howling Coyote gets totally frustrated and leaves. 

Naomi has a baby.  They name him One Horn Bull.

Jacob was traveling for two seasons.  He hunted and trapped animals and sold their pelts for a rifle, a horse and a donkey. 

American River, California, 1846.  War broke out between the USA and Mexico.  Jacob gets caught up with the Californios.   He fell in with Captain John Fremont and his Bear-Flagged volunteers.  Then one day they stop at a small farmhouse and Jacob sees Thunder Heart Woman.  And then he sees her new husband with their new baby.   Her new husband is his brother Jethro.  Jacob Jr, comes around with some fruit for the soldiers.  Jacob Sr. speaks to him and gives the boy his medicine wheel necklace.  He tells the boy to tell no one about the necklace.  Jacob Sr. takes off without revealing his presence to his family.  He says he saw a happy family and didn't want to disturb that. 

After the soldiers leave, Thunder Heart Woman sees Jacob Jr.'s necklace.  She assk who gave him the necklace?  One of the soldiers.  He says he looked like Uncle Jethro.  Thunder Heart Woman stats to cry, but she checks herself, not wanting to upset her son. 

Running Fox can't trade buffalo hides for pistols, so he takes whiskey instead.  The warriors get stinking drunk. 

Thunder Heart Woman shows the medicine wheel necklace to her daughter Margaret.  She tells Margaret that her father did not want to show himself to the new family.  Margaret keeps the necklace and starts to go upstairs with it.  Her mother asks her what is she going to do?  The answer is:  "I have to find him.  He's my father."

Running Fox brings his group to the old tribe.  He tells his brother Dog Star that Loved by the Buffalo came to them in a vision and told them to rejoin the original tribe.  Dog Star is very happy to accept Running Fox back in the group. 


Episode 3.  Dreams and Schemes. 

American River, California Territory, 1848.  Gold waits for someone to find it. 

A man comes by Jethro's farm and asks for directions.  He tells Jethro that gold has been discovered in California and he aims to get his share. 

San Francisco.  Margaret looks for her father without success. 

Upper Klamath Lake, a little north of the California/Oregon border.  Oregon Territory.  Jacob tells Fremont that these Indians massacred here are not the ones who killed his soldiers.  These people here are Klamath people, not Modoc people.

Jethro goes to join the Gold Rush.  There Jethro runs into the prospector who stopped to ask him directions.  His name is Martin Jarrett.  Martin wishes Jethro good luck. 

The Oregon Trail.  Running Fox and others examine the Oregon Trail.  They don't like it one bit and Brings Horse asks can't they stop these white men? 

The soldiers appear in San Francisco.  Margaret looks for her father among them.  Her employer tells her to get back to work.

Margaret visits the soldier encampment.  She meets a soldier who knows Jacob Wheeler, but it's a trap.  The man takes her to the stables to rape her.  She scratches the man's face and gets away.  He pursues her.  She is saved by a camera man who knocks the rapist out with a cane.  He takes her to his studio.  She learns his name is Ethan Biggs. 

Jethro finds his first gold nugget.  He brings it home to show to his family, but they are not impressed.  The nugget is only worth about $30 dollars.  There's lots of work on the farm that's not been getting done and Thunder Heart Woman would rather Jethro stay at home and work.  He goes back to the river to look for gold at night.  Thunder Heart Woman follows him and watches as he takes a break and drinks down some liquor from his whiskey flask. 

Friction really builds up between Jethro and Abe Wheeler.  They start to hate each other.  Jethro goes after Abe and knocks him down with his fist.  The boy makes a grab at Jethro's pistol, but Jethro gets it first.  Jethro runs out of the house.  Abe decides to leave the farm.  His mother gives him the few coins she has. 

David Wheeler appears one day at Jethro's farmhouse.  He's a cousin to Jethro.  He stays for dinner with the family.  David partners up with Jethro, but they don't have much luck.  And it looks like Jethro is becoming an alcoholic.  Jethro with help from David drives out the Chinese from their claim by force. 

The two Wheelers strike it rich with one large finding.  They are going to go to Sacramento to see how much they can get for the vein of gold.  David says he wants half of the money from the gold as he found it  Jethro offers him a quarter of the money.  They both pull weapons on each other.  Jethro says that he'll give David a third of the money, seeing as how David is family.  Late at night Jethro awakens and notices that David isn't in the house.  He grabs his rifle and starts racing outside to find David.  Jethro catches up with him, and they both point their rifles at each other.  Jethro lowers his rifle a bit and David shoots Jethro in the left leg.  Jethro fires back but misses David. 

David reaches the river and jumps into a canoe and starts paddling away.  Jethro reaches the river and fires his pistol, but again misses David.  Jethro wades into the river and grabs onto a rope attached to the canoe.  He stops David's forward progress.  So David starts smashing Jethro in the face with his paddle.  David hits him a hard blow in the face and Jethro can't hold on to the rope. He disappears under the water.  And now David falls into the river.  The heavy rock in David's knapsack weighs him down and he drowns. 

One year later.  San Francisco, 1850.   Margaret is working as an assistant to photographer Ethan Biggs.  She cries while working on the development of a daguerreotype of a pioneer family because it reminds her of the time she and her family had a daguerreotype developed for them when they were with her biological father.   Ethan asks her why doesn't she introduce him to her mother.  Margaret tells him he doesn't know all about her.  She is part Lakota.  Ethan says that doesn't matter. 

So Margaret takes Ethan to meet her mother.  Mother is delighted to see Margaret.  Margaret asks mother to leave this place but mother will not, saying she had a vision that Margaret's father is coming back to this place one day.  Mother accepts Ethan Biggs. 

The whites call for a conference with all the plains Indian tribes.  The conference takes place at Fort Laramie, Nebraska Territory.  [Fort Laramie is in Wyoming, USA.]  September 1851.  The consequent treaty would be called the Treaty of Fort Laramie.  One of the cavalry officers, named Lt. Grattan, tells Mr. Fitzpatrick, that they cannot put any stock in the word of an Indian.  Fitzpatrick says he doesn't share Grattan's pessimistic view.

Margaret and Ethan hear of a wheelwright named Jacob who fixed a wheel for a pioneer family.  They ride their horses out to the place to find out if it's Jacob Wheeler.  They visit a house out in the countryside.  Jacob holds a rifle on the two people, that is until Margaret tells him they are looking for a man named Jacob Wheeler.  She shows him the medicine wheel necklace that she wears.  He asks if she is Margaret and she calls him daddy.  They embrace. 

Lakota Territory, 1851.  Running Fox's son, White Crow, and his wife have a baby boy.  They name him Red Lance. 

Jacob Wheeler comes to the Wheeler home.  He sees the grave of Jethro Wheeler.  He goes to see Thunder Heart woman, who is busy at work.  She is being harassed by two red necks and Jacob knocks them both down and takes their pistols.  He then chases them away.  He now goes over and kisses Thunder Heart Woman. 

Brule Village, Nebraska Territory, 1854.  A white man chasses after one of his cattle while passing the Indian village.  The animal runs through the Indian village causing damage to the teepees and other things.  An Indian catches the cow and tries to tell the owner to come get his cow before it causes even more damage to their village.  The white man, however, is scared of the Indians and runs away from them.  The chief of the village says that next morning they will go speak with the soldier chief about what happened.  But before the Indians get started the next morning, the soldiers arrive at the village.  Lt. Grattan is in command.  He tells Chief Conquering Bear that a cow was taken from a wagon train that passed by the village.  The chief says that the cow escaped and did a lot of damage to the village and the white man walked away leaving the cow as payment for the damages.  The white interpreter is partly drunk and messes up the story as told by the Brule.  Grattan says that the United States doe not bargain with thieves. 
Grattan returns to his soldiers and orders the cannon be fired at the village.  He then orders his soldiers to fire on the village.  Chief  Conquering Bear is killed.  The Brule are so incensed at the soldiers that they attack them.  Grattan and his men start running away, but Brule on horses cut them down.  The interpreter is killed with an arrow through his neck.  Grattan goes down with around six or seven arrows in his back.  The Fort Laramie Treaty was to be no more.  The whites took revenge on the Indians, frightening Loved by the Buffalo into thinking that his grandfather's black vision was coming true. 
Six years later.  Lawrence, Kansas Territory, 1860.  Samson Wheeler lives in Lawrence with his family working as a wheelwright.  A black man, Henry Foster, asks Samson for a job.  Samson hires the man and then introduces him to his two sons:  Aaron and Jeremiah.  Lincoln has won the election and will be the next President of the United States.  There is talk of possible war between the northern and southern states. 
An abolitionist condemns Quantrill and his raiders as mercenaries of the slave-loving state of Missouri.  Quantrill interrupts the meeting saying soon he is going to come back and kill everyone who is attending this meeting.  And he says he's going to enjoying killing all of them. 
Nevada Territory.  The Pony Express.  The pay was $100 dollars a month.  The riders went from St. Joe, Missouri to Sacramento, California.  Abe Wheeler signs up as a rider.  He races against another Pony express person and wins. 
California, 1861.  Ethan Wheeler announces that he's going to sign up to fight for the Union. 
In Lawrence Samson has his shop ruined by the supporters of slavery. 
Great Plains.  October 1861.  Abe Wheeler passes by the village of Dog Star and Running Fox.  Some of the young men want to chase him, but Running Fox tells them not to for the man rides like a Lakota. 
Abe comes into a Pony Express Station in a hurry and the station master says there's no hurry because the Pony Express is shutting down.  He points to the telegraph wire stretching past the station.  The Lakota examine the wire of the telegraph.  A young man, a son of Dog Star, climbs the post and cuts the wire.  The cavalry are close by in the woods and a bullet enters the chest of the wire-cutter.  The young fellow falls to the ground dead.  The Lakota take the body back to the village.  The mother of the deceased wails over his body. 
Nebraska Territory, 1862.  A Lakota prisoner of the cavalry keeps repeating something over and over.  The soldiers can't understand him.  One man asks what is the Indian saying. Civilian Jacob Wheeler, Jr. is there and he says the man is saying he's thirsty.  He goes over with his canteen and gives the Lakota a drink.  The soldier asks what the Indian was saying  and then tells Ethan that he could make a living working as a translator for the army.  So Jacob signs on as a scout and interpreter for the army. 
Quantrill and his raiders start burning down the town of Lawrence in Bloody Kansas.  Samson Wheeler prepares to fight the raiders.  He sends his wife and daughter away in a wagon with others fleeing the town.  Mother tells Clara that if anything should happen to her, she wants Clara to make her way to Cousin Daniel in Omaha.  Mother tells Clara to run.  The mother runs back to her home.  The house is set on fire.  Samson shoots a raider going into the house, but another raider shoots Samson.  The mother is shot.  The black worker for Samson is hanged.  After the raiders leave, Clara returns to find her parents both dead, along with her brothers, Aaron and Jeremiah.  She buries her family and then sets out for Omaha.   


Episode 4.   Hell on Wheels.

Loved by the Buffalo still wanders seeking a way to save his people from destruction. 

Omaha, Nebraska Territory.  December 1, 1863.  The Union Pacific Railroad is starting its push west extending its rail lines to a point where it meets a railway line building east out of California.  A man gives a speech to a crowd of onlookers about the building of what will be the first transcontinental railroad of the United States.  Coming into Omaha at this very time is Clara Wheeler from Lawrence, Kansas.  She finds Daniel Wheeler's wheelwright business.  Clara steps into the business and says her name is Clara Wheeler and her father was Samson Wheeler. 

Daniel Wheeler tells his wife that they should send Clara back east where she belongs.  Mrs. Wheeler reminds him there's a civil war going on in the east.  Young Robert Wheeler speaks up, saying he will take responsibility for the girl.  So dad reluctantly gives in and lets Clara stay with them.  At night Clara has nightmares of the sacking of Lawrence and the death of her immediate family.  She wakes up screaming.  Robert rushes over to her and holds her tight as she cries. 

Outside Sacramento, California.  March 1864.  This is the western kickoff of the building of the transcontinental railroad.  Ethan Biggs and Margaret are there to take pictures.  A spokesman for the Central Pacific Railroad gives a little speech.  Margaret thinks of her Indian family and mentions to Ethan that she would like to see her mother's village.  Ethan says then that's what they will do.  That makes Margaret very happy. 

Central Pacific Railhead. Sierra Nevadas.  Abe Wheeler becomes a railway worker.  An Irish supervisor takes a disliking to Abe partly because he is half Indian and Abe and he get into a fight.  Another supervisor at a higher level breaks up the fight and fines both men a day's wages.  One of the railroad big shots comes over and scolds the senior supervisor for using too much force on his workers.  The supervisor says this is how you have to treat these men, most of whom will leave for the gold mines once they get a grub stake.  So the big shot says there are plenty of Chinese who are eager to work on the railways.  So they will replaces the discontented whites with Chinese.  The senior supervisor gets angry and says he won't work with the Chinese. 

Denver, Colorado Territory.  September 1864.  Right in the center of town Col. Chivington, the Fighting Parson who beat the Gray Coat at Glorieta Pass in New Mexico, displays the dead bodies of a family murdered by the Indians on their ranch only 25 miles east of Denver.  The people are shocked at the sight of themutilated adults and their children.   Chivington then has an easy job of recruiting volunteers for his new regiment for self-defense.  Margaret and Ethan Biggs are there to photograph the goings-on. 

The Biggs family rides in a stage back to San Francisco.  In waiting for them is an ambush by the Indians.  The Cheyenne jump on their horses and chase the stage.  One of the male passengers is hit in the chest with an arrow.  The guard is killed, then the driver.  The Indians now try to stop the stage coach, but the coach flips over on its side.  The Indians are about to kill Margaret, but one of them notices that Margaret wears a medicine wheel necklace around her neck.  It finally occurs to her to speak Lakota, saying if they spare her husband they will show them how they can copy faces. So the Indians decide not to kill Ethan either.

Ethan takes a group photo of the Indians with their dead white men in the picture.  The Cheyenne like the photo and decide to take the couple to Chief Black Kettle. 

Black Kettle's Camp, Sand Creek, Colorado (200 miles southeast of Denver and 162 miles east of Colorado Springs).  The Cheyenne treat the two captives as honored guests. 

Later Black Kettle speaks with Margaret.  He wants to know more about this magic black box of hers.  He also comments that he doesn't like speaking the white language and that white people are like locusts descending on a field and devouring everything.  Margaret tells him that more white people are coming because they are building a railway line that will go across the whole land from ocean to ocean.   This news disturbs Black Kettle. 

Ethan Biggs takes more photos of the Cheyenne, including women and children.

Black Kettle has no control over that part of his young men who ride with the raiders.  The leader of the stage robbery takes off with many of the young men to head out for still another raid.  Black Kettle tells Margaret that he wants to live in peace with the white man, but it's hard because most of the buffalo have been killed off.  He says, nevertheless, he is determined to stop all this fighting.  He adds that Margaret can help him work with the white men because she can understand their thoughts.  He wants her to go speak to the white chief at the nearby fort.

Fort Lyon, Colorado.  (Today the historic site is near Las Animas, Colorado, 79 miles southwest of Sandy Creek.)  Margaret speaks to the Major saying that Black Kettle asks for a council.  She then says that she bears witness to his fair treatment. 

Denver, September 28, 1864.  The local Indian chiefs come to the council.  Black Kettle says he is worried that the white soldiers will mistake them for enemies of the whites and conduct war against the peaceful as well as the warlike tribes.  Governor Evans gets up and says the civil war is almost over and then the soldiers will be sent out west to fight the Indians.  So all the Indians must make peace with the whites.  The chiefs say they want peace, but many times they can't keep the young men in line and they go out raiding.  The Governor now lets Colonel Chivington speak.  He is short and a bit bitter with his talk.  He says he will continue to fight the Indians until they submit to America military and civilian control. 

Major Wynkopp believes the Cheyenne truly want peace, but the Governor asks Chivington then what could I do with the Third Colorado Volunteers if we make peace?  Chivington says the regiment was raised to kill Indians.  So the Governor says the soldiers must kill Indians.  But Black Kettle believes the white chiefs when they told him to fly this American flag at the village and no harm will come to them. 

Chivington and his Volunteers move into Fort Lyon.  Tonight they go to attack the Cheyenne.  This bothers Major Wynkopp, but Chivington says damn anyone who has sympathy for the Indians. 

Margaret tells Black Kettle that she and her husband will be leaving tomorrow.  She thanks Black Kettle for his hospitality toward her and her husband. 

Col. Chivington and his men leave the fort. 

Sand Creek Village, November 29, 1864.  Chivington tells his men to take no prisoners.  The people see them coming and some start to run away.  The soldiers open fire and start killing everyone in sight.  They shoot Ethan Biggs down.  Margaret stabs the soldier with an arrow.  The soldier is about to shoot Margaret but shrapnel from a cannon ball kills the soldier.  Two Cheyenne men pick Margaret up off her husband to help her escape being killed.  Margaret now decides to stay with what's left of Black Kettle's tribe. 

North Platte, 300 miles west of Omaha, October 1866. Daniel Wheeler and his sons are working with the rail line.  He has an idea to start a little empire by starting a new town along the railroad. Robert is going with his father.  Clara asks Robert to take her with him when he goes.  Robert says there's no women allowed.  She is persistent and keeps asking him.  She says she wants to see the wild west with him before it is tamed.  Clara adds that he is all that she has left.  "You are my only family." 

Black Hills, Dakota Territory.  Dog Star with his grandson, White Bird, and his son, Sleeping Bear, watch as the whites start pouring into the Dakotas.  A new leader arises:  Red Cloud.  He speaks of stopping the attempt of the whites to make a path, the Bozeman trail, through Wyoming and Montana.

Cape Horn, Northern California.  The Chinese plant gun powder in holes they hammer out in a mountain to lower it's overall height so the train can get over the mountain.   Abe Wheeler works with the Chinese on the job.  He has made a friend, Chow-Ping, and it's good that he did because Chow-Ping rescues Abe when Abe's ropes start failing him. 

Fort Phil Kearny, Wyoming Territory, December 20, 1866.  Fort Phil Kearny was one of the forts guarding the Bozeman Trail.  The trail took off northwest from the Oregon Trail after passing Fort Laramie, Wyoming.  [The fort was located along the east side of the Bighorn Mountains in present-day northern Johnson County, approximately 15 miles (24 km) north of Buffalo.]  White Crow and Red Lance join the warriors of Red Cloud.  Another Sioux warrior with Red Cloud is Crazy Horse.  An attack on the supply train is planned for the next day. 

The next day shots are heard when the supply train is attacked.  The commander of the fort sends Captain Fetterman with some men to relieve the supply train and then return to the fort.  Under no circumstances is the captain to engage the Indians over Lodge Trail Ridge.  Fetterman and his men leave the fort.  They soon find the Indians.  And on a ridge stands Crazy Horse.  Fetterman is disturbed by the Indian seeming to be completely unafraid of the arrival of the cavalry.  He fires several shots at Crazy Horse, but only slowly does Crazy Horse get on his Indian pony at start heading over Lodge Trail Ridge.  Fetterman chases after Crazy Horse and Crazy Horse leads Fetterman into a double ambush.  Indians in front of him and Indians behind him.  All the soldiers are killed. 

Donner Summit, Sierra Nevadas 7,000 feet above sea level.  February 1867.  Abe and Chow-Ping are still trying to blow a mountain apart. 

North Platte, Nebraska Territory, April 1867.  Daniel Wheeler was one of the men who made North Platte into a boomtown. Daniel appropriated railroad land for illicit purposes and then sold it to other speculators at five times its value.  Now Daniel owns the saloon in town as well as his wheelwright business.  Clara has her mending and sewing shop where she earns money.  She is saving her money to buy her own shop and then she won't have to rent her tent from Robert's father anymore.

Col. George Armstrong Custer comes to town and arrests some drunken soldiers.  He takes them back to camp and has them bull whipped.  Jacob Wheeler Jr. doesn't much like the army.  Custer wants to catch the Indians and punish them.  Abe tells him it's hard to find Indians when they don't want to be found.  Custer has a different view of the problem.  He says the scouts, like Jacob, are half-breeds and they just don't have enough enthusiasm necessary to catch Indians. 

Working on the railway, they finish their job of blowing a tunnel through the mountain in front of them.  Abe and Chow-Ping are thrilled to be able to see the other side of the mountain. 

Medicine Lodge Creek.  October 1867.  General Sherman comes to speak to the Indians.  Black Kettle and Margaret are at the council.  Sherman speaks of establishing a long peace, while some of the Indians want to continue fighting like Red Cloud.  Black Kettle signs the treaty. 

North Platte.  Daniel Wheeler tells his son Robert that he is sending Clara back to mother and sister because Robert is too distracted by the girl.  Robert tells his father that he won't let him do that.  Robert nearly throttles his father, but brother intervenes.  Father says he will let this pass, for now. 

The railroad makes progress and the Wheelers move on with it.  "And so the towns came and went, Julesburg, Sidney, Potter, Kimball, Archer."

Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory.  May 1868.  "Then came Cheyenne, the Magic City of the Plains, nearly halfway between Omaha and the shores of California."  Clara now has her own sewing shop.  Robert comes into see her.   Her business is doing very well.  The two kiss. 

The Chinese workers have a little work stoppage to protest against being overworked.  The big boss tells the Chinese that they can rest for now, but they will pick up working tomorrow. 

Fort Phil Kearney, Wyoming Territory, August 1868.  After two years of fighting the Long Knives abandoned their fort and abandoned the Bozeman Trail.  This emboldened some of the Indians.

Black Kettle's Camp, Washita River.  November 27, 1868.  Custer attacks an Indian village on the Washita River (near present day Cheyenne, Oklahoma).  It's another big massacre.  Jacob sees his sister Margaret with the other captives.  Black Kettle and his wife are dead  [It is estimated that the Southern Cheyenne had perhaps 50 killed and 50 wounded, together with 53 prisoners.]

Fort Hays, Kansas.  7th Cavalry Headquarters.    Mrs. Custer sees Margaret among the captives and she points her out to her husband as an Indian woman who doesn't seem so fierce.  Jacob tells his sister later that he will get her out. 

Jacob grabs Margaret at night and tries to get her on a horse so she can ride away from Fort Hays,  but Margaret demands that he let her stay with her Cheyenne brethren.  She says she can never be again what she once was.  Then she cries and he hugs her.   

The two railroads will be meeting at Promontory Summit above Salt Lake City, Utah.  Robert tells his dad that once the railroad lines are united, he is striking out on his own.  Dad doesn't like it one bit. 

They are planning a big ceremony and celebration of the completion of the first transcontinental railway in the United States.  Promontory Point, Utah.  May 10, 1869. 

Robert and Clara now drive out of Utah.  Abe Wheeler also walks away from the railway. 


Episode 5.  Casualties of War.

The cavalry use Loved by the Buffalo's medicine wheel as a place to have a baseball league.  Gold is found in the sacred Indian land of the Black Hills. 

Hillsgate, Dakota Territory, three months later. A Gold Rush begins and towns go up.  And Robert Wheeler is there at the right time and the right place.  Robert and Clara are a bit overwhelmed by all the people buying supplies from them. 

Robert gives a prospector a ride out to the Black Hills for $10 dollars.  They don't run into the Lakota, but they do run into two bushwhackers.  The prospector is killed, but Robert is able to kill the two bushwhackers. 

Red Cloud Agency, Dakota Territory.  Red Cloud sees his Black Hills being overrun by white men.  Red Lance and his brother Voices that Carry are ready for war.  Dog Star speaks for peace but Running Fox and White Bird, the son of Dog Star, says they will go with Sitting Bull. 

Hillsgate, Dakota Territory.  On Sunday, Clara teaches school these days.  At night Clara can't sleep because she worries about Robert.  When he gets back, she tells him that she doesn't want him going back out to the Black Hills.  And then, Robert tells her how he killed two bushwhackers, ". . . even though I didn't have to."

Red Cloud Agency, September 1875.  The white peace talkers at least admit that it's going to be hard for the government to keep whites out of the Black Hills, but they sure don't offer much help or hope for the Lakota. 

Hillsgate.  Robert makes a lot of money off the miners, but he buys a lot of buffalo hides and loses most of that money. 

Red Cloud Agency.  Margaret is now at the Red Cloud Agency.  She came to be mother to the many orphans left by the many battles.  Robert comes selling his buffalo hides, but the agency is not buying.  So he decides to just give the hides to the Lakota.  Captain Pratt of the 10th Cavalry commends Robert for his good deed.  Margaret gets a place to stay with her children.  She emphasizes that they will depend upon only themselves for their living.  At night the small boy Voices that Carry runs away to be with Sitting Bull.

Sitting Bull's Camp, Rosebud Creek, Montana Territory.  Voices that Carry finds his friends and relations, but they insist that the boy go back to Dog Star.  The boy says he won't go back there, because there the men are not men, and he is a man.  He asks where are the soldiers?  What soldiers? is his answer.  Sitting Bull comes over and asks when will the soldiers come, according to Dog Star, that is?    Voices that Carry says after the Moon of the Popping Trees.  

Sitting Bull has a vision.  He says the sky was full with soldiers and they fell onto their camp.  He adds that the Great Spirit gives them these soldiers. 

Yellowstone River, Montana Territory, June 14, 1876.  [The Yellowstone River is a principal tributary of the upper Missouri River.  The Yellowstone goes through Billings, Montana.  Between Billings and Forsyth, the Bighorn River runs into the Yellowstone.  Northeast of the town of Hardin on US 90 the Little Bighorn River flows into the Bighorn River.  The Little Bighorn flows north out of Wyoming and goes through the Crow Agency in Montana and up near Hardin.  South of the Crow Agency is the Custer Battlefield on US 90 (near Route 212).]  The man in charge tells Custer, Reno and Benteen to head toward Rosebud Creek, which is northeast and east of the Little Bighorn River.  Meanwhile, the commander and Gibbons will march up the Yellowstone River to a blocking position at the mouth of the Little Bighorn where it joins the Yellowstone.  One of the officers tells Custer not to be greedy because there's plenty of Indians for everyone.  In other words, wait for us.  Custer says:  "No, I don't think I will."

Little Bighorn River, Montana Territory, June 25, 1876.  Jacob Jr. reports to Custer that he spotted Sitting Bull's camp and there were so many horses that he couldn't count them all.  Custer says they will strike the village immediately.  Jacob says it's best that they wait for reinforcements to arrive.  Custer rejects that idea.  Custer gives a note to Jacob Jr. to give to Benteen to bring his packs up to support Custer's fight. 

Kids warn the warriors that the cavalry is on its way.  Reno comes in first at the far end of the village and his men are repulsed and have to ride back across the Little Bighorn (or crawl back) to a high point.  Custer crosses the Little Bighorn about in the middle of the huge encampment.  He is soon on the run back across the Little Bighorn.  And now the main part of the 7th Cavalry has to run for their lives.  The unit gets badly spread out and picked off and overwhelmed.  Crazy Horse and a large number of warriors ride their ponies north and cross the Little Bighorn to make sure Custer can't make a northern escape.  Jacob Jr. is shot off his horse and young boys poke at him with their sticks. 

Custer is caught in a trap and soon becomes surrounded by thousands of angry Lakota and other tribes.  Custer and his men dismount and make their last stand.   He and his men are overwhelmed.  All are killed. 

White Bird is killed in the fighting.  Voices that Carry will have to tell his father what happened. 

July 1876.  In Hillsgate the towns people are extremely upset at the Custer massacre.  They, and virtually all the United States, want these Indians taught a lesson and pronto.

Clara had a baby boy but the baby died.  Robert asks her please not to shut him out for the baby was his son too.  Clara says she's sorry. 

Dog Star receives White Bird's body and is upset and a bit bitter that White Bird left the agency in the first place.  The women wail over the young man's death. 

Some of the men of the 7th Cavalry come into Hillsgate and are received as heroes.  Robert and Clara learn of the death of Jacob Wheeler Jr. at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  Jacob Wheeler Sr. and Thunder Heart Woman come to Hillsgate.  They go to Robert and Clara's store to talk with them.  Thunder Heart Woman wants to see where her son died.  Robert says it's a two day ride by wagon.  She still wants to go and will pay whatever it costs. Clara tells the woman to keep her money.  They will all go to the battlefield.

At nighttime on their journey, Robert realizes that this Jacob Wheeler Sr. is the one he had been told about by his own family.  The families reach the battlefield.  The actual battlefield is scattered over a huge area.  Custer's last stand is where a lot of men died, but Jacob Wheeler Jr. wasn't with those men.  He was killed when he was totally by himself.  It would be very doubtful that his mother could find his grave or body. 

Many Long Knives came to avenge the death of Custer and his men.  All Indians on the plains were declared prisoners of war.  Their weapons were confiscated.  The white men took back more of the land promised to the Indians. 

Loved by the Buffalo feels very sad for his people and that he still has not found an answer on how to help his people. 

Hillsgate.  Captain Pratt in civilian clothes comes to see Robert Wheeler.  Things are not going so well for Robert's business these days.  There had been a drought.  Pratt has dinner with the Wheeler family.  He says he came because President Hays and the Congress have given him the use of barracks in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, for a model Indian school.  He will recruit 125 children from here and the territories for its inaugural class. 

Pratt goes around to speak to the Indians about an Indian school for their children.  He speaks well about the Indians becoming educated and standing up to the white men as their equals.  Some of the Lakota say that the white men first took their land and now they want their children.  Dog Star speaks up and says his children will go to school.  He wants Voices that Carry to go and watch over the children.  The lad says that Dog Star can't make him go to school.  Dog Star says that if the Lakota are not to loose more and more to the white men, they must have education.  The boy acknowledges the truth of what Dog Star says. 

The children going to Pennsylvania gather together and are put on wagons to go to school.  Robert and Clara are driving one of the wagons. 

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, October 1879.  At the school, the teachers take away the belongings of the children, many of which do not want to give them up.  They are told to choose a white man's or white woman's name from the list of names on the blackboard.  They are then given name plates to place around their necks.  Voices that Carry still has his old familiar rebelliousness.  He really doesn't like the idea of losing his braids.  He runs away from the barber's chair and Robert Wheeler has to chase after him.  In fact, a whole crowd of white adults surrounds Voices that Carry and he has to give up.  But then all the whites walk away from him sitting on the ground all alone.  The boy sits out there all day long.  Later he starts singing in Lakota for the Great Spirit to be compassionate to him.  He pulls a knife from his boot and cuts off his own braids.  The other children and many of the adults watch him as he does this. 

Back on the reservation, Margaret teaches her girls to give them an education.  She tells them that the earth goes around the sun and the moon goes around the earth.

Robert teaches the boys how to be wheelwrights.  Clara teaches boys and girls how to type with a typewriter. 

George (Voices that Carry) makes amulets for the boys to remember their Lakota culture.  This gets him in trouble with Mr. Pratt.  The school is a good idea, but Mr. Pratt goes too far in pushing this "be white" idea.  Clara and Robert both think he's too harsh and sanctimonious. 

At night George starts building a structure in which to sleep in the woods.  Then he slips back into his bunk very early in the morning.  Pratt watches George return to his room. 

A student who speaks Lakota has to swallow a piece of soap, while Pratt shouts at him that he is never to speak Indian again.  Soon at night George invites more and more boys to his shelter and camp fire.  They perform Indian songs and dances. 

On horseback Pratt and some of his men descend on the Indian encampment.  George is taken and placed in a locked room in solitary confinement. 

Robert asks Pratt to let him try and bring George around to be reconciled to the ideas of the school.  Pratt doesn't share Robert's views on education, but he is willing to give him a chance to work with George. 

Clara is pregnant again and Robert is extremely happy about it.  That night Robert goes to talk with George. 

Robert and Clara decide to go back home.  Pratt says he's very disappointed in Robert, but Robert says it's time for him to go home where he can do some good of his own.  George is sad to see Robert and Clara leave.  He waves goodbye to them. 


Episode 6.  Ghost Dance.

Paiute Reservation, Nevada.  November 1889.  An Indian calling himself Messiah says that he has been to the white man's heaven and has spoken to the white man's God.  He adds that their God talked to him and said that the day is coming when the buffalo will return and all the dead Indians will arise and live again.  "White people cannot hurt Indians then.  Do not tell the white people this.  Follow my words.  . . .  God showed me a dance to take to my people.  Go home.  Make this dance.  All Indians dancing.  Good times will come."

Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota.  March 1890.  It's been over ten years since Robert and Clara left Pennsylvania.  Robert takes George out to the Pine Ridge Reservation.  A hungry Lakota family stops Robert's wagon and asks for some food.  Robert resists but eventually gives the man quite a bit of food.

The agency is handing out only flour, coffee and blankets.  The Lakota complain about no meat.  They will have to wait until next month for meat.  Robert and George go over to the school house to see Clara.  Clara is very happy to see George.  She has him come in and speak to her class.  George stands in front of the class and says he lived among the whites for many years, but he is still Lakota and there are still lots of things to learn here with his people.

Robert goes to see Agent Royer.  He shows Robert a letter from the agent at Standing Rock Reservation saying that rumors of an Indian Messiah are spreading like wildfire. 

Margaret still has children under her care.  She takes two more under her wing,  girls abandoned by their mother who cannot afford to feed them. 

Sitting Bull's Camp, Standing Rock Reservation.  George comes to the reservation looking for Red Lance.  The two men hug each other. 

June 1890.  The Ghost Dance comes to Pine Ridge Reservation.  Agent Royer is very disturbed by this.  He goes and gets a pistol.  He points the gun at the dance leader.  But the leader just makes a joke at the agent's expense in Lakota and all the people just laugh.  The problem is that the journalists hype what happened  as a virtual prelude to another Indian war. 

Jacob Sr and Thunder Heart Woman come to pay a visit with Robert, Clara and their son. Grandmother wants to see her daughter Margaret once again.  Robert says if she's on the Pine Ridge Reservation, he will find her. 

Standing Rock Reservation.  George tells Red Lance that the Ghost Dance is only superstition.  Red Lance says that George does not have ears to listen to his brother.  Another rumor circulates, this one about a magic shirt that the white's bullets will not penetrate.  George speaks up and tells the Lakota that cotton will not stop a bullet.  The Lakota say George must "believe" and not be such a white man.  The Lakota women start turning out many of these magic shirts and the warriors start wearing them. 

Royer wants to arrest some of the Ghost Dance leaders, but Robert warns that this will only create real problems for Royer.  Margaret trades a "Ghost Shirt" for a camera with a newspaper man.  Margaret starts to use the camera to document what's going on at Pine Ridge.  She then sees a wanted picture up on the bulletin board.  Her family is trying to find her. 

Robert brings Margaret to see her mother and father.  Mother and daughter hug each other and cry.  Dad comes around the corner and he and Margaret hug and cry. 

Pine Ridge Reservation  There is another Ghost Dance.  Royer sends a telegram asking for troops to arrest the leaders and get control of the situation.

November 20, 1890.  The 7th Cavalry arrives in Pine Ridge. 

December, 1890.  Red Cloud tells Royer that when winter gets going, the Ghost Dances will stop.  General Miles has authorized the arrest of Sitting Bull.  Red Lance gets into a fight with Voices that Carry over the Ghost Dance Shirt and Dance. 

December 15, 1890.  The Indian police go to get Sitting Bull. They bust open the door and bring Sitting Bull out of the cabin.  Someone shoots an Indian policemant and then two Indian policemen shoot Sitting Bull, killing him.  General chaos breaks out and Voices that Carry ends up killing one of the Indian policemen.

December 24, 1890.  Christmas Eve.  Robert tells the family that George is wanted for killing an Indian policeman. 

George and his brother and a lot of refugees go out to the Badlands.

Chief Big Foot's Camp in the Badlands.  The people at the camp dance the Ghost Dance.  The newcomers tell Chief Big Foot, who is very sick and laying a wagon, that the Indian police have killed Sitting Bull over at Standing Rock.  Big Foot says they will go to Pine Ridge to seek the protection and guidance of Chief Red Cloud.  Voices that Carry talks to his grandfather Dog Star.  He goes on to say that he has lost his center. Dog Star says that the whole world has lost its center. 

December 28, 1890.  The army is on the march.  They go into the Badlands after Big Foot.  The commander is named Forsyth.  He finds Big Foot who says that he will not fight the soldiers.  Forsyth tells Big Foot to follow the soldiers to their camp at Wounded Knee. So they travel the five miles to Wounded Knee.

The troops and Big Foot arrive at Wounded Knee.  Robert is there with blankets for the renegades.  He finds George and talks with him.  George says he fits in neither with the white or the Indian world.  They say goodbye to each other. 

December 29, 1890.  Reveille is sounded by the bugler  The Indians are gathered into a big rectangle where they are surrounded by troops on all sides.  Forsyth calls for all with arms to come forward and lay them in one big stack.  After awhile, Big Foot says there are no more guns.  Forsyth says that Big Foot is lying.  He then has his men search all the teepees for arms.  The soldiers find some more arms in the teepees.  A soldier frisks a deaf-man and finds he has a rifle.  In the struggle over the rifle, the rifle goes off.  Then the soldiers just open up on all the Lakota.  The firing kills a lot of soldiers too.  Lakota men grab their weapons from the stack of arms and fire back at the soldiers.  The cannon are fired at the Lakota.  Teepees are set on fire.

Clara and the kids in the Pine Ridge school hear the rifle and cannon fire.  The Lakota near the agency crowd around the agency for protection and instructions on what to do.  Some Lakota at Wounded Knee try to reach the agency but are shot down by the soldiers.  Robert and George are both wounded.  The fighting stops when there is no one left to kill.  [More than 200 men, women, and children of the Lakota had been killed and 51 were wounded, some of which later died.]

Clara serves as a nurse to the wounded.  She finds Robert as he goes into amputation surgery of his right leg.  Clara's boy walks around seeing the dead and the wounded. 

New Year's Day, 1891.  Corpses are still laying out where they fell.  Loved by the Buffalo finds the medicine wheel necklace and puts it around his neck.  Margaret walks among the many dead.  She kneels down and cries.  Later she takes pictures of the massacre and its aftermath.  Margaret saves Loved by the Buffalo from a nasty beating by a civilian who did not know that Loved by the Buffalo was performing a death rite over the Indian dead and not robbing the dead.  Margaret and Loved by the Buffalo now recognize each other.


Back to the present.  The Lakota story teller now finishes with his telling of the Lakota history.

Jacob Wheeler, Sr. now finishes his telling of the history of his people and of the country to Robert and Clara's boy.



Good historical film.  It covers a lot of territory starting in 1825 with the Lakota family in the west and the Wheeler family in Virginia.  Some of the historic events covered are:  Jedediah Smith opening up California; the trips out west by the pioneers; the killing off of the buffalo that would stop the roving lifestyle of the plains Indians; the war between Mexico and the United States; the 1849 California Gold Rush; the 1851 Treaty of Fort Laramie; the 1854 Grattan Massacre; the sack of Lawrence in Bloody Kansas; the Pony Express; the 1861-1865 Civil War; the building of the first transcontinental railway in the USA; the 1864 Sand Creek Massacre; the 1866 Fetterman Massacre; Custer's 1868 Battle of Washita; 1876 Custer's Last Stand; 1879 opening of an Indian school at Carlisle, Pennsylvania; 1889 Ghost Dance; and 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre. 

Congratulations to the film for covering so much territory.  The acting is good with lots of important historical events.  The story of the two families is interesting and even more so because the two families become related to each other through the marriage of Jacob Wheeler and Thunder Heart Woman. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.



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