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THEMATIC: The American Landscape:

Cities  |   Natural Disasters  |   The Environment  |   Westward Expansion

Annie Oakley

Annie Oakley
The star attraction of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, Annie Oakley thrilled audiences around the world with her daring shooting feats. Her act helped fuel turn-of-the-century nostalgia for the vanished, mythical world of the American West.
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In 1926, just a few months before her death, Will Rogers described Annie Oakley as "the greatest woman rifle shot the world has ever produced." As the star attraction of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, she thrilled audiences around the world with her daring shooting feats. Her act helped fuel turn-of-the-century nostalgia for the vanished, mythical world of the American West. Over time she became an American legend -- the loud, brassy, cocksure shooter celebrated in the musical "Annie Get Your Gun." But that legend had little to do with the real Annie Oakley.
Buffalo Bill

Buffalo Bill
Just as the American frontier was disappearing, "Buffalo Bill" Cody transformed himself into a master showman, creating a world-famous traveling show that brought the "real" Wild West to life.
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William "Buffalo Bill" Cody's legendary exploits helped create the myth of the American West that still endures today. Born in an Iowa log cabin in 1846, he fought Indians, worked as a Pony Express rider, and earned his nickname while hunting buffalo to feed the construction crews of the Kansas Pacific Railroad. After the Civil War he scouted for the U.S. Army along America's vast western frontier. In 1883, just as that frontier was disappearing, he transformed himself into a master showman, creating and starring in a world-famous traveling show that brought the "real" Wild West to life. Part circus, part history, Buffalo Bill's Wild West toured for three decades, playing to enthusiastic crowds across the United States and Europe.

Geronimo and the Apache Resistance (no website available)
The story of a tragic collision of two civilizations.
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The story of a tragic collision of two civilizations, each with startlingly different views of one another. In 1886, 5,000 U.S. troops mobilized to capture this one man and his band of followers, who by refusing to move onto a reservation, defied and eluded federal authorities.
Gold Fever

Gold Fever
When gold was discovered in a frozen no man's land between Canada and Alaska, 100,000 people made the treacherous journey in search of riches .
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The 1890's in America were desperate times. A depression brought bank and business failures and forced millions of men and women from their jobs. When gold was discovered in a frozen no man's land between Canada and Alaska, 100,000 people made the treacherous journey in search of riches.

Ishi: The Last Yahi Indian (no website available)
The last surviving member of a California Indian tribe.
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When Ishi, the last surviving member of a small Indian tribe, walked into the small California town of Oroville in 1911, he became a media curiosity and scientific "specimen." The San Francisco Museum built a Yahi house where audiences could watch Ishi make arrowheads and shoot bows. Ishi went to the theater and received invitations of marriage. But contact would bring him terrible physical and psychological consequences.

Journey to America (no website available)
A tribute to the twelve million people who emigrated to the U.S. between 1890 and 1920.
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A tribute to the twelve million people who emigrated to the U.S. between 1890 and 1920. A recapturing of the journey through Europe to seaport towns, to the arrival in New York Harbor, and into the early months of settlement from urban ghettos out into the prairies. Letters, diaries and oral interviews are used to depict one of the largest single human migrations in history.
Kit Carson

Kit Carson
The legendary trapper, scout, and soldier's exploits on the American frontier inspired popular dime novels, but those tales belie the complexities of the real Kit Carson.
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When the West was a mystery to most Americans, Carson mastered it, and his expertise made him not only famous but also sought-after. Eventually, by helping to spur a migration that would change the West forever, he unwittingly became an agent in the destruction of the life he loved.
Lost in the Grand Canyon

Lost in the Grand Canyon
John Wesley Powell's epic journey into the unknown Grand Canyon.
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In the summer of 1869, a one-armed Civil War veteran led the first expedition down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. John Wesley Powell's epic journey into the unknown established the Grand Canyon as a national landmark, and made him a hero. But when he used his fame to argue against the overdevelopment of the West, Powell was attacked.
Remember the Alamo

Remember the Alamo
In the early 1830s Texas was about to explode. Under Mexican rule, the region was home to more than 20,000 U.S. settlers, and 4,000 Mexican Texans or Tejanos. With war on the horizon, the Tejanos had to pick a side.
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In the early 1830s Texas was about to explode. Although under Mexican rule, the region was home to more than 20,000 U.S. settlers agitated by what they saw as restrictive Mexican policies. Mexican officials, concerned with illegal trading and immigration, were prepared to fight hard to keep the province under their control. Caught in the middle were the area's 4,000 Mexican Texans or Tejanos.With war on the horizon, the Tejanos had to pick a side. Many chose to fight with their Anglo neighbors against an army sent by Mexico City. The conflict pitted brother against brother and devastated the community. The Tejano gamble for a more prosperous future in an independent Texas proved tragic. Following the revolution, the Tejanos were overwhelmed by a surge of Anglo immigration leaving them foreigners in a land they had fought to defend.
The Donner Party

The Donner Party
A haunting story of westward expansion.
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Of all the 19th century pioneer stories, none exerts so powerful a hold on the American imagination as this, during the worst winter ever recorded in the High Sierras. In June, 1846, 87 men, women and children began their legendary 2,000 mile journey from Illinois to California. They packed huge wagons, took food, hired servants. When family leaders made the fateful decision to take an untried short cut to beat the coming winter, only half would come out alive.
The Gold Rush

The Gold Rush
Told though the stories of a small group of diverse characters-Chinese and Chilean, Northerner and Southerner, black and white-this two-hour AMERICAN EXPERIENCE tracks the evolution of the Gold Rush from the easy riches of the first few months to the fier
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On January 28, 1848, James Marshall found gold near the fork of the American and Sacramento Rivers, and unleashed a massive migration from around the world to what had been a forgotten backwater. With head-spinning speed, these gold-seekers created one of the most extraordinary societies in history-hard-driving, overwhelmingly male, often brutal. The Gold Rush was a remarkably international event; in short order, gold-seekers from Oregon and the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), Mexico, Chile, England, France, Australia, Ireland, and China were soon knee-deep in water in the diggings. Each found themselves playing the Great California Lottery, in which luck not hard work or honesty, seemed the key to success. Told though the stories of a small group of diverse characters-Chinese and Chilean, Northerner and Southerner, black and white-this two-hour AMERICAN EXPERIENCE tracks the evolution of the Gold Rush from the easy riches of the first few months to the fierce competition for a few good claims. It shows that as the diggings became oppressively crowded, Americans drove foreigners from the mines. And it explores how in the end, the big money was made, not by men with shovels, but by large investments in expensive hydraulic equipment. Nonetheless, in the hurly burly of the intervening years, the Gold Rush turned California into a place synonymous with risk, riches, and reinvention, a place where the impossible seemed likely.
The Iron Road

The Iron Road
The story of the transcontinental railroad.
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A tale of high adventure, enormous human effort and engineering brilliance. On May 2, 1869, when the last railroad spike was driven, bells in the churches of New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Omaha and St. Louis rang in celebration. Six years in the making, the transcontinental railroad captured the imagination of the nation, symbolizing unification of the country after five years of Civil War.
The Mormons

The Mormons
This film presents a complex portrait of Mormonism. It digs deep into the Mormon past to understand the church today. It neither vilifies the church nor extols it, and in doing so it shows that the Mormon story is an American story and that Mormonism is p
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An AMERICAN EXPERIENCE/FRONTLINE co-productionMormons have always had a strange hold on the American imagination as licentious polygamists and pioneer heroes, subversives and super patriots, hard workers and possessors of dark secrets. Yet though Mormons have been persecuted more than any other religious group in the nation's history, and though Mormonism is one of the fastest growing faiths, most Americans know little about the religion. In this revealing, provocative two-part documentary, filmmaker Helen Whitney digs deep into the Mormon past to understand the church today. As she reveals, though the Mormons' early story is gaudy, extravagant and scandalous, it is also inspiring and the basis of their theology. At a crossroads, the Mormon Church is now finally confronting its history-what is fact and what is myth?-and reconciling scientific and historic truth with religious doctrine. With unprecedented access to church archives and with the cooperation of church leadership, Whitney paints a more complex portrait of Mormonism than ever before, a portrait that neither vilifies the church nor extols it, and in doing so she reveals that the Mormon story is an American story and that Mormonism is perhaps the most American of religions.

The Way West (no website available)
How the West was lost and won, from the Gold Rush in 1848 until the end of the Indian Wars at Wounded Knee in 1893.
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A six-hour documentary of how the West was lost and won, from the time of the Gold Rush in 1848 until after the last gasp of the Indian Wars at Wounded Knee in 1893, when the West was settled, subdued, exploited and incorporated into the American empire. Lakotas, Cheyennes, Kiowas, Poncas, Apaches, Nez Perces and Utes fought back, then watched as everything they had was taken from them, their way of life all but destroyed.
Transcontinental Railroad

Transcontinental Railroad
Ingenious entrepreneurs, brilliant engineers, armies of workers, and Native Americans figure in the remarkable story of how a railroad was built connecting California to the East.
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On May 10, 1869, at Promontory Summit, Utah, a boisterous crowd gathered to witness the completion of one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century: the building of the transcontinental railroad. The electrifying moment -- the realization of a dream first pursued by a farsighted and determined engineer decades earlier -- marked the culmination of six years of grueling work. Peopled by the ingenious entrepreneurs whose unscrupulous financing got the line laid, the brilliant engineers who charted the railroad's course and hurdled the geological obstacles in its way, the armies of workers who labored relentlessly on the enterprise, and the Native Americans whose lives were destroyed in its wake, Transcontinental Railroad is a remarkable story of greed, innovation and gritty determination. It reveals both why the railroad was built and how it would shape the nation, while shedding light on the politics and culture of mid-nineteenth century America.

Views of a Vanishing Frontier (no website available)
The journey of Prince Maximilian, German naturalist, and artist Karl Bodmer, who explored the Mississippi River area from 1832-34.
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The journey of Prince Maximilian, German naturalist, and artist Karl Bodmer, who explored the Mississippi River area from 1832-34, meticulously documenting in paintings and journals the landscape, plants and life of Native Americans.
THEMATIC: The American Landscape:

Cities  |   Natural Disasters  |   The Environment  |   Westward Expansion

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