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Closed-captioned for the hearing impaired. "Ken Burns presents The West, a film by Stephen Ives"--Container Executive producer, Ken Burns; producers, Stephen Ives, Jody Abramson, Michael Kantor; writers, Geoffrey C. Ward, Dayton Duncan; photography, Buddy Squires, Allen Moore; editor, Richard Hankin; supervising editor, Paul Barnes; narrator, Peter Coyote; music, Matthias Gohl; consultant, Geoffrey C. Ward. Originally produced as a TV series by WETA-TV, Washington, D.C. VHS Historical TV documentary series.

By the 1870s the American conquest of the West was nearly complete. In one decade, with Native Americans effectively confined to reservations, some four-and-a-half million new settlers would arrive to stake their claim to the future. Pap Singleton, an ex-slave from Tennessee, became the era's "Black Moses," leading his people to the free soil of Kansas. A frail New York politician transformed himself into a rugged North Dakota rancher, and eventually, president of the United States. And as Americans tried to "tame" the West, the nation's greatest showman, Buffalo Bill Cody, instead offered adoring crowds his enthusiastic version of a "Wild West"--Heroic, glorious, romantic, and most of all, mythic.