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Sioux Falls Free Thinkers endorse 500 Nations for the
factual history of the American Indians during the
invasion of America by the Europeans.

500 Nations
Kevin Costner Explores America's Indian Heritage

500 Nations (2004) - 372 minutes
500 Nations at

The amazing story of America's original inhabitants has been crystallized as never before into a powerful epic event on 4 discs. The insight actor/filmmaker and series host/executive producer Kevin Costner brought to his Dances with Wolves serves as a springboard to this thrilling chronicle, filmed at actual locations from the jungles of Central America to the Canadian Arctic. A cast of star voices and state-of-the-art computer recreations bring this rich, untold history to vivid, moving life.

  • Episode 1: The Ancestors - Early Cultures of North America
    • Explore three stunning early cultures of North America. The Anasazi transform the arid Southwest and construct the imposing 800-room Pueblo Bonito, depicted inside and out via computer animation. At Mesa Verde, Cliff Palace provides a glimpse into a prospering society. Near present-day St. Louis in bustling Cahokia, the largest city in the U.S. before 1800 - yet few have heard of this fascinating realm.
  • Episode 2: Mexico - The Rise and Fall of the Aztecs
    • A series of conflicts solidifies the power of the Toltecs for centuries in the Valley of Mexico. By 1300 AD, a conquering nomadic people - who would become the Aztecs - arrive. Their majestic city Tenochtitlan becomes the center of an empire and the objective of Cortez, who sinks his ships in the harbor so his men cannot turn back from the fight.
  • Episode 3: Clash of Cultures - The People Who Met Columbus
    • On Hispaniola, Indian overtures of friendship and commerce run aground against the outsiders' belief that wealth belongs to those strong enough to take it. Conflict erupts, and the names of Guacanagari, Enrique and the female leader Anacaona are woven into a tapestry of heroics and tragedy. Inhabitants in Florida and the Mississippi Valley also confront an intractable force: the conquistadors of Hernando De Soto.
  • Episode 4: Invasion of the Coast - The First English Settlements
    • The search for a Northwest Passage in the Arctic impacts the Inuit people. At Jamestown, the story of the Powhatan princess Pocahontas unfolds. Did she really save Captain John Smith? Evidence says otherwise. At Plymouth, Wampanoags introduce Pilgrims to a harvest celebration: Thanksgiving. Harmony ultimately turns to hostility: Massasoit's son leads the bloodiest of all colonial Indian wars in 1675.
  • Episode 5: Cauldron of War - Iroquois Democracy and the American Revolution
    • Europe fights for control of American resources. Many indigenous nations side with the trade-oriented French rather than the land-claiming English in the fierce French and Indian War. When the defeated French withdraw from the Ohio Valley and leave their Indian allies vulnerable, a determined leader rises to prominence: Pontiac.
  • Episode 6: Removal - War and Exile in the East
    • Shawnee leader Tecumseh challenges the tide of history, sparking a return to traditional ways and seizing upon the War of 1812 as the means to restore Indian sovereignty. In 1830 the Indian Removal Act becomes law. Many tribes stoically accept its decree. Others resist. In a dramatic showdown, Tsali bargains his life for the fate of his Cherokee people - and for a Smoky Mountains homeland that exists to this day.
  • Episode 7: Roads Across the Plains - Struggle for the West
    • "Horse culture" nations increasingly face subjugation or annihilation. Black Kettle and White Antelope, honored by President Lincoln, pursue a path of peace that meets with tragedy at Sand Creek. The treacherous massacre there by Col. Covington's militia has repercussions across the Plains, and Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and other leaders head fierce pockets of resistance to resettlement.
  • Episode 8: Attack on Culture - "I Will Fight No More Forever"
    • The legislative attack on native ways results in disbanding communal land. Reservations divide into 160-acre parcels offered to individual Indians; remaining vast expanses are sold. The Oklahoma Land Rush of 1889 grabs up remnant land given decades before to "civilized tribes" as a perpetual home. Today, renewal of native cultures reminds us of the glory of America's original people and the hardships they endured.

7-1-18 Uncovering the traumatic past of the Navajo people
150 years after the Navajo Treaty, young Navajo grapple with their history. Two years ago, Vanessa Roanhorse was in Taos, New Mexico, with her husband, and they walked by the Kit Carson museum. "My husband was like, 'Who's Kit Carson?'" says Roanhorse. "I'm looking at him thinking, 'How do you not know who Kit Carson is?'" Although Carson is a significant part of U.S. history, people outside of the Southwest generally have no idea who he was. He was a frontiersman, famous as a tracker and wilderness guide and for shaping New Mexico. But for the Navajo, he is the devil — and the reason is the Long Walk. "The Long Walk was a huge initiative undertaken by Kit Carson and his team of various military branches to round up as many Navajos as they could, and force them on this walk," explains Roanhorse. That walk was actually some 50 separate marches. Almost 10,000 Navajo, as well as several hundred Mescalero Apaches, traveled as many as 400 miles to reach Fort Sumner in eastern New Mexico — or as it is known to the Navajo, Hwéeldi, The Place of Suffering. At the museum, Roanhorse looked for this side of the history, but she couldn't find it. "There wasn't one mention of any relationship with Native Americans. It was completely devoid of the story, which was just blowing my mind," says Roanhorse. Roanhorse had moved from Chicago back to New Mexico so that her son Arno would have access to his Navajo culture. "I have a son who is half Navajo, half white and he's going to spend the rest of his life trying to make sense of who he is, where he belongs. And my hope is I can instill with him a strong sense of his Navajo family and his culture," Roanhorse says. For Roanhorse, part of knowing where she comes from includes understanding some very painful parts of U.S. history.

500 Nations
Kevin Costner Explores America's Indian Heritage

Sioux Falls Free Thinkers endorse 500 Nations for the
factual history of the American Indians during the
invasion of America by the Europeans.