Promised Land

Season 1 Episode 20


Aired Unknown Mar 18, 1997 on CBS
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Episode Summary

A conflict has erupted as a mining company is in the process of tearing down Lester Beneally's hogan (ceremonial place). The tribal police (some of whom are Native Americans themselves) try to enforce the relocation papers they claim he signed before his death. Raymond (Lester's son) swears the signature is forged, and is trying to do everything in his power to stop them. When U.S. Marshals arrive to force the confrontation, Jesse Rainbird (Raymond's cousin and a tribal officer caught in the middle, torn between the law he is hired to enforce and his own heritage) tries to mediate a peaceful intervention–but instead is forced to watch his cousin gunned down by government forces. Russell wakes from a dream with a premonition that his old friend Jesse is in trouble. Only a couple hundred miles from the reservation, Russell and Claire decide to forgo their plans for a family trip to the Grand Canyon to visit Jesse and his family. Once they arrive, Jesse's wife, Rena, explains that Jesse is missing and has been on the warpath so to speak ever since the conflict which claimed his cousin's life (intent on avenging his cousin's death). Rena is terribly worried that the clash will only lead to more bloodshed. Russell and Conrad Shorty, a family friend, team up to locate Jesse and bring him in peaceably. Conrad fills Russell in on the history of the conflict which began when Congress initially allowed the mining company onto their land and forced them to relocate to clear the way for further mining. Promises of modern conveniences and modernization shortchanged them of their heritage, customs and their way of life. Arthur Yazzie, a young Native American lawyer who has done good by the system, stops by to pressure the Rainbirds to sign relocation papers. Rena refuses, seeing through his shallow promises. Yazzie informs them they have two days to sign the papers or face forced relocation. That evening, the Greenes sit down for a traditional meal with the Rainbirds while Russell and Conrad continue their search for Jesse. Setting up camp, Russell recounts how he and Jesse originally met. Russell was a veteran just out of the Vietnam War, passing through town, when a bunch of teenagers decided to harass him. Provoked, Russell's ready instincts kicked in, nearly causing him to kill one of the youths. Something prevented him from going over the line and he fled the bar and hitched a ride from a stranger (Jesse). Jesse stopped to pick Russell up, helped him through a rough period and changed his life. The next morning, Russell continues the search for Jesse while Conrad waits at the camp. Russell eventually finds Jesse–at the other end of a gun barrel. Russell has to convince Jesse that violence won't solve anything. Jesse explains how the government has left them little option by killing those that dare to protect what is rightfully theirs. Russell appeals to Jesse to consider giving it another try. When Russell, Conrad and Jesse return home the following day, Rod, the tribal cop posted to watch for Jesse, holds them at gunpoint. He then confesses that he panicked when he heard shots ring out and it was he who shot Raymond. Rod offers to hand his gun over to Jesse but Jesse declines. Jesse turns over his badge to Sheriff Lamont Nez. Russell appeals to Sheriff Nez. But Nez remains unswayed, driven by his need to keep his job and support his family–even if that job means going against his own people. The Rainbird family, joined by the Greenes, stand along the road leading through their reservation with others from the reservation ready for the confrontation as the convoy of bulldozers approach. Sheriff Nez and Rod are there to quell the protest when Conrad, Jesse and Russell arrive. When it becomes clear that no amount of reasoning will get through to Lamont and his crew, Russell takes a video camera from Rod and starts filming the proceedings–threatening to go to the media. The Supervisor and Arthur Yazzie try to stop Russell from filming–but are unsuccessful. Jesse appeals to the Native American driving the bulldozer, making an impassioned plea to stop the rape of his ancestor's sacred land, culture and heritage. Jesse gets his message across and the driver signals retreat and the others follow. Sheriff Nez says they will be back–that the conflict isn't over. Satisfied that their mission is accomplished, at least for the time being, Jesse and Conrad thank the Greenes for their support. Meanwhile Josh must deal with his loss of vision since the shooting. Jesse's teenage son, Will, tries to help Josh out of his depressed state and helps restore his faith and his interest in music and his guitar. Will applies an Indian eye remedy to a skeptical Josh. In the meantime, he tries to impart to Josh that there are other ways of seeing than with one's eyes. When his mother tells Josh of the Rainbird's struggles to keep their land, Josh begins to come outside of his own self- pity and his interest in music is reawakened. Josh learns to use his other senses - and by the end of the episode, begins to regain his eyesight. Hattie is initially intimidated by Rena's mother, Theresa, until she learns that Theresa was one of the first to be relocated. Gifts are exchanged and a bridge between cultures forged.moreless

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