Into the West, a six-week television event, explores one of the most powerful and defining chapters in American history. As the desire for adventure, wealth and a better life inspires thousands to risk their lives traveling across the vast western territories, the inhabitants of this land see their way of life being destroyed. Set against a backdrop of major historical events, the Gold Rush, Pony Express, Transcontinental Railroad, the Indian Wars, this powerful epic adventure unfolds as told through the struggles, triumphs and heartaches of two families as they journey in search of the American dream.
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Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Television, Into the West features the talents of six of directors hand-picked by Steven Spielberg and stars an starring Sean Astin, Simon R. Baker, Irene Bedard, Tom Berenger, Gil Birmingham, Beau Bridges, Josh Brolin, Gary Busey, Jessica Capshaw, Tonantzin Carmelo, Keith Carradine, Tyler Christopher, Rachael Leigh Cook, Derek DeLint, Balthazar Getty, Daniel Gillies, Joanna Going, Graham Greene, Lance Henriksen, Christian Kane, Warren Kole, George Leach, Joseph M. Marshall III, Zahn McClarnon, Russell Means, Matthew Modine, Will Patton, David Paymer, Tyler Posey, Judge Reinhold, Keri Russell, Elizabeth Sage, Jonathan Scarfe, Craig Sheffer, Eric Schweig, Matthew Settle, Michael Spears, Chaske Spencer, Wes Studi, Jay Tavare, John Terry, Gordon Tootoosis, Sheila Tousey, Alan Tudyk and Skeet Ulrich
Episode One – Wheel to the Stars
The year is 1827. In Virginia, young Jacob Wheeler dreams of adventure. Leaving his family behind, he joins renowned mountain man Jedediah Smith on an expedition to California. Meanwhile, a young Lakota holy man, Loved By The Buffalo, receives disturbing visions about the coming of the white man and the demise of the buffalo. When his sister, Thunder Heart Woman, is saved by Jacob, the lives of the two families become forever intertwined.
Episode Two – Manifest Destiny
The changes in the western frontier take their toll on the Native people. Some choose to cast their lot with the white man, while others cling to their traditional ways. Jacob Wheeler and his wife, Thunder Heart Woman, return to Virginia, but soon the promise of a new life in California entices Jacob to set out again along with his brother Jethro. The road is long and hard. Many are lost, and in the end, one brother makes the ultimate sacrifice.
Episode Three - Dreams & Schemes
Gold fever spreads throughout the land bringing thousands of prospectors to California, and leaving a wake of destruction across Lakota sacred land. Greed overtakes Jethro Wheeler, who risks his life to strike it rich. In exile, Loved By The Buffalo continues to seek the prophet who will save the Lakota and their land. Meanwhile, back east, the election of President Abraham Lincoln divides the Union.
Episode Four - Hell on Wheels
The race is on as the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads lay down tracks across the U.S., bringing East and West together. Joining the railroad crew is Jacob Wheeler's son Abe, while his other son, Jacob Jr., becomes a scout for the Army. Jacob's daughter, Margaret, is captured and adopted by the Cheyenne, whose village is then attacked by U.S. soldiers. Seeing the horrors of how her Native American brethren are treated by the soldiers, Margaret decides to stay with her Cheyenne family, who refer to her by her Lakota name, Light Shines. Meanwhile, Robert Wheeler and his orphaned and distant cousin Clara seek their fortune in a railroad boomtown. But after a clash with Robert's controlling father, they decide to strike out on their own.
Episode Five - Casualties of War
When gold is discovered in the Black Hills, the U.S. Army moves in to take possession of the land. However, Chief Sitting Bull refuses to yield the sacred lands and has a vision of the Army's defeat. His vision of victory becomes reality when Crazy Horse and his warriors overcome Custer and the 7th Calvary at Little Big Horn. But the Lakota victory fuels increased hatred toward the Native Americans. Meanwhile, Robert and Clara's general store prospers as a result of the gold rush, while Margaret/Light Shines finds purpose in a nearby refugee camp helping the women and orphaned children. Robert and Clara are enticed into teaching at an experimental school in Pennsylvania designed to "civilize" Native American children.
Episode Six - Ghost Dance
Robert and Clara return home, disillusioned by the school they have been hired to run, and Clara begins to teach Native American children on the reservation. Loved By the Buffalo believes he has found the foretold prophet when a mysterious Indian named Wokova inspires his people with the Ghost Dance and a vision of their restored land. But the ritual stirs up more fear among those who wish to contain the Native Americans. After Sitting Bull is "accidentally" killed by soldiers, the Ghost Dance rebellion grows, which in turn leads to more brutality toward the Native Americans. Loved By the Buffalo and Jacob meet again, closing a circle that began many years ago, and Loved By the Buffalo resolves to pass on his Lakota traditions to the next generation so their ways continue on.
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