I first discovered the tv mini-series Into the West a few years ago now. I always wanted to see it, but I was unsure about what might be in it so I held off. I wish I hadn’t. Recently I started researching it, asking questions and finding out if there was anything questionable in it. I discovered that, besides a few kisses, it was clean. I was thrilled.
Episode one of Into the West is called, Wheel to the Stars. In it we are introduced to two families. One is a family of Lakota Indians, the other is the Wheeler family from Virginia. Our narrators are Jacob Wheeler and Loved by the Buffalo.
The story begins with the Indian tribe. It tells the story of how Loved by the Buffalo got his name, and the visions seen by Growling Bear before he died. With all movies that involve Indians, we are going to be introduced to their beliefs. I was very interested by how detailed this movie was. It is extremely interesting to be introduced to all their traditions and religions. I never learned so much about Native Americans from any other movie as I have from this one.
Our story enters into the life of Jacob Wheeler. He is a young man who longs to go out west for adventure. When the opportunity arises he runs away from home with his brother Nathan, and they set out hoping to join Jedediah Smith and his mountain men. When it seems that they are not going to be accepted into the group of men heading west, Nathan goes off and wins a deed to some land in Texas, but Jacob is still determined to ride with Jedediah Smith. So the two brothers separate, Nathan to Texas and Jacob in search of Mr. Smith.
Meanwhile in the Indian camp, Loved by the Buffalo, Dog Star and Running Fox’s sister, Thunder Heart Woman, is given to a white trader in marriage. This scene brought emotions to the surface for me. It made me think of what it must’ve been like for young Indian girls then, who were simply given away in marriage to a man they hardly knew without being asked if they wanted to go or not. They had no choice, no say in the matter. It must’ve been such a frightening thing. I can’t even imagine how scary that would be.
Jacob joins Jedediah Smith and his mountain men. Ecstatic over being allowed to ride with a legend, Jacob sets out to prove that he’s just like all the other mountain men. This brought forth laughter for me when he drops his gun at the first sign of a bear. Laughter soon turned into a horrified gasp when Jedediah was attacked by said bear and had his scalp ripped.
Now, this is where I was pleasantly surprised by this mini-series. His scalp ripped open and bleeding, Jedediah tells his men to praise the Lord for providing their supper that night and then, after ordering Jacob to sew his scalp back together, he sits calmly reading his Bible while Jacob squirms and whimpers as he sews the poor man’s scalp back together. Of everything I expected from this film, I had not expected there to be such a strong man of faith in it.
Thunder Heart Woman’s troubles have only begun. When Crow Indians are lurking close to her home, we know that something is going to happen and we are left wondering if Thunder Heart Woman is still alive….
Jedediah Smith once again proves his amazing faith in God when he and Jacob are trapped in a small tunnel and Jacob panics. Instead of panicking himself Jedediah starts quoting scriptures he’s memorized and at one point he shouts at Jacob, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and grab hold of my boot!” The whole scene was filled with him quoting the Bible and I was simply awestruck, because I realized that I would’ve been like Jacob. I would’ve panicked. Jedediah Smith possessed a strength and faith that I want to have. It was beautiful.
This movie blew me away. I was so thrilled to be able to watch it. This first episode alone was so very incredible. I have always loved the stories of the west, but this series wasn’t just a western. This was history. It was very historically accurate, and I think that’s what I loved most about it.
If you’ve not seen Into the West, then I definitely recommend it to you! See it as soon as you possibly can!!
Coming Soon: The journey seemed so easy and exciting to the three sisters…no one anticipated the tragedies that awaited them. Look for my review of Into the West Part 2: Manifest Destiny, soon!!