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American Experience; Way West, The


(UK version) episode 2

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American Experience
Way West, The
Program Number

707, 708, 709, 710

Series Description

Premiered October 1988 As television's longest-running, most-watched history series, American Experience brings to life the incredible characters and epic stories that helped form this nation. Now in its eighteenth season, the series has produced over 180 programs and garnered every major broadcast award. Series release date: 10/1988

Program Description

This series tells the story of the country's westward expansion. This documentary follows the clash of cultures as Native Americans and whites struggled bitterly over land. More than a history of conquest and defeat, the series explores the compelling spiritual dimensions of the struggle for the American West. Russell Baker narrates. 707 - "Westward, the Course of Civilization Takes It's Way" --charts the opening decades of expansion, from the 1840s through the Civil War. When the Gold Rush sent hundreds of thousands of people rushing across the continent to California and Oregon, the world of Native Americans was turned upside down. 708 - "The Approach of Civilization" --chronicles the four-year period following the Civil War. Year by year, railroads reached up and over the Sierra Nevada, and farther into the Great Plains, threatening to destroy the remaining buffalo ranges. As tribes across the Great Plains began to mount a counter-offensive, figures like George Armstrong Custer, Crazy Horse, Buffalo Bill Cody, Red Cloud and Sitting Bull came to the fore. 709 - "The War for the Black Hills" --In 1873, when overbuilding on the Northern Pacific Railroad brought on nationwide financial panic and depression, the United States invaded the sacred Black Hills in search of gold. This treaty violation, together with the systematic extermination of the buffalo, sparked outrage among the Lakotas and Cheyennes. By 1875, the stage was set for a final showdown. 710 - "Ghost Dance" --chronicles the crackdown on Native American tribes across the Northwest in the aftermath of the Battle of the Little Bighorn; and charts the final, desperate days of Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull. This final episode examines the rise of the Ghost Dance Religion and the last, horrendous massacre at Wounded Knee.



Asset Type

Broadcast program

Media Type


Chicago: “American Experience; Way West, The,” 04/21/1995, GBH Archives, accessed May 21, 2024,
MLA: “American Experience; Way West, The.” 04/21/1995. GBH Archives. Web. May 21, 2024. <>.
APA: American Experience; Way West, The. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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