Well, it happened again. I wrote a long and detailed movie review, and
the computer decided to stop working. Oh well...here I go again.
Today's review is of the 1998 movie Wind River. It is based on the real
life story of pony express rider Nick Wilson (Blake Heron). Most of the
movie is set long before Nick rode for the Pony Express, though. The
movie features many familiar faces.
It starts in the 1850s. To make a long story short (as I hate to try to
rewrite a long review), Shoshone Chief Washakie's (Russell Means) mother
Anuba (Patricia Van Ingen) has a dream. The dream is about a white boy
saving the life of her child. She interprets this to mean that a white
boy will save the life of one of the Shoshone. Washakie sends Morogonai
(A Martinez) and two other men out to find the white boy in Anuba's
Nick is a young teenager in Grantsville, Utah. Nick is frustrated by
working on his family's farm. His father is gone on an extended trip.
Nick is a bit immature and continues to have problems with his mother
(Karen Allen) and his slightly older brother Sylvester (Devon
Gummersall). His only friend is a young Goshiute named Pantsuk (Brandon
Baker). They are starting to learn each others language. Nick and
Pantsuk play, work and learn together. One day in a fit of anger with
his family, Nick tries to plow the field despite being told to do
otherwise. The mule bolts, and Nick is dragged along in the reins.
Pantsuk manages to save Nick, but Pantsuk is killed in the process. Nick
The next day, Nick is alone on the woods. He meets Morogonai and the two
other Shoshone. Mick is afraid the warriors will kil him and he tries to
run away. Nick trips and falls and he yells out. Morogonai tells Nick
that they are not there to hurt him. One of the Shoshone's call Nick,
"Yagachi" (Crier). Nick recognized the name and says he is not a crier.
Morogonai asks if Nick speaks Shoshone. Nick says he speaks some
Goshiute, which is similar. This will help Nick to learn to speak
Shoshone in the future. Morogonai tells Nick that he will give him a
good horse if he will go with them back to Shoshone territory. Nick is
not happy at home, but he is not sure about leaving either. Morogonai
tells Nick to the wind to see what he should do. They will wait unti the
next day before they leave. Nick hears the wind and he decides to go
with Morogonai to Shoshone land. The next morning, he leaves without
telling his family.
Eventually, the nearby settlers go looking for Nick without success. His
brother will not give up searching for Nick for a long time. Nick moves
in with Washakie and Anuba. They teach him the ways of the Shoshone. He
learns how to hunt, and he begins to mature. Due to the constant
migration of white settlers, more Indian tribes begin to move into
Shoshone lands. Washakie wants to maintain good relations with the
whites. Pocatello (Wes Studi) plays a Shoshone who does not like
whites. He wants to fight them and to buy Nick. Morogonai and Washakie
have several conflicts with Pocatello, and the Crow.
I will not give away the ending of the story, except to say that Nick
survives. In fact, Wilson, Wyoming is named after him. Several of his
great grandchildren are in the movie. Fort Washakie is named after Chief
Washakie. You can see pictures of the area, and of the Chief grave on my
website at: http://americanindian.net/2003g.html . Pocatello, Idaho
was named after the person played by Wes Studi.
Wind River does have some violence, but it is not too graphic. While it
is historical, it is mostly a "coming-of-age" story. I do not know
exactly how correct the story or the frequent Indian langauges are. The
basic story does seem to follow the local history as I know it. Washakie
and most of the Shoshones are presented in a very positive light.
You can read more about Nick on these websites:
Blake Heron .... Nick Wilson
A Martinez .... Moragoni
Russell Means .... Washakie
Wes Studi .... Pocatello
Devon Gummersall .... Sylvester
Karen Allen .... Martha (Wilson)
Patricia Van Ingen .... Anuba
Alanzo Coby .... Opening Shoshone Indian #1
Tom Shell .... Pilgrim
Payton Mackey .... Pony Express Rider
Wayne Brennan .... Elliot
Rick Lichtenhan .... Cowboy
Brandon Baker (I) .... Pantsuk
You can buy a copy of this movie, or of the book, through the links below. Click on the title for information, click on "Buy" to order a copy.
VHS Video Cassette
Click on one of the underlined phrases below to go to that page.