On the Cowboy Trail
From the Odyssey series
by Randy Strothman and Barry Head
Executive Producer, Michael Ambrosino
color, 59 min, 1981
The heyday of the American cowboy was in the last half of the nineteenth century. As the economics of ranching changed in the twentieth century, the cowboy's role became more peripheral and his image increasingly romanticized.
Cowboy culture does still exist, although barely, in southeastern Montana, where Ray Holmes rides herd for his land-owning neighbors. These include a family who owns a small but flourishing ranch, and a descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson who runs her own small ranch virtually single-handedly. The film explores the lives of these three households and their cattle, and the imminent demise of what remains of cowboy culture. Even the land is threatened: huge strip mining operations have already encroached upon the nearby Montana grasslands.
About Odyssey series In an attempt to cut the often esoteric ice of anthropology, PBS released in 1980 the first season of ODYSSEY, a newly-created series of anthropological documentaries, with a second season in 1981. The entire series was produced by Public Broadcasting Associates of Boston, with major funding by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Additional funding was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Polaroid. Michael Ambrosino is the Executive Producer of the series.
other films in the Odyssey series:
The Ancient Mariners
The Chaco Legacy
Margaret Mead: Taking Note
Maya Lords of the Jungle
Myths and the Moundbuilders
N!ai, The Story of a !Kung Woman
Ongka's Big Moka
Other People's Garbage
Seeking the First Americans
The Three Worlds of Bali