Season 2 of Into the Wild Frontier has dropped on INSP. The first episode, KIT CARSON: FEARLESS FIGHTER, aired February 15.
Kit Carson spends his teenage years in the Southwest, learning to hunt, trap, and scout. Along the way, he befriends other frontier legends like Jim Bridger, and he quickly earns a reputation for his steely nerves and fearlessness. When Carson nearly dies in a skirmish with Blackfeet warriors, his mind turns to marriage, and he begins to court a famous Arapaho beauty named Waa-Nibe. But the realities of mountain life intrude on Carson’s marriage plans when a Canadian mountain man, known as the Bully of the Mountains, insults Waa-Nibe. An incensed Carson challenges the bully to a duel to the death, and a legend is born when the two men face each other on horseback in the heart of the wild frontier.
Those of you who track it down will recognize a certain Frontier Partisan who was invited to be a commentator on the action.
Warm Springs Productions reached out to me after I reviewed Season 1 here, and after I posted the inaugural Frontier Partisans Podcast series on… Kit Carson. A Montana outfit, they invited me to a satellite filming location in Redmond, Washington, and Lady Marilyn and I hit the road up there last spring.
I am most pleased with the way things came out. Each episode focuses on a couple of vignettes from the frontiersman’s life (including at least one woman this season). These vignettes are crafted to illustrate the character of those involved as well as representing memorable moments in Fur Trade history. Carson’s rendezvous duel with the French-Canadian Chouinard is one of those great moments where fact and folklore intersect: It was widely and contemporaneously reported, so we can be confident that the incident took place. We don’t know for sure why — some would have Chouinard attempting to assault Wa-anibe and Carson gallantly stepping in to defend/avenge his lady love. Then again, Carson may just have gotten sick of the Frenchman’s mouth. Both things could be true. Contemporary accounts indicated that Carson wounded Chouinard, who subsequently disappears from the historical record. Did Carson finish him off, or was Chouinard simply sufficiently chastened, enough so that he gave up his bullying ways? We don’t know. The episode allows the ambiguity to stand without attempting to resolve it. That’s the way to roll.
If you can’t access INSP, be patient. Season 1 is now streaming on a variety of platforms, including
East India Co. Amazon Prime and Tubi. Season 2 won’t be too far behind.
I’ll post on the rest of Season 2’s episodes as we go along. I offered some commentary around a couple of other frontiersmen, but I don’t know if I’m in any of the other episodes, since the focus of my interview was Carson.
I am proud to be a part of this series — it’s a long cut above most of the documentaries and docu-dramas on the Fur Trade. While names like Carson are well-known, others, like, say, Andrew Henry, are known only to Fur Trade buffs. As you know, I’ve long advocated for documentary outfits to tell some new stories — and here we are. The writers know their stuff, and from what I’ve watched so far, the production values only continue to get stronger. I still can’t quite believe that I’m featured in the same piece as Paul Andrew Hutton, whom I consider one of the all-time great frontier historians.
What else is there to say other than WAUGH!