In this paper, the object of my attention is the HBO television production, Deadwood. In this highly acclaimed series, NYPD Blue’s creator, David Milch, both drew on and disrupted the genre of the American Western, generating fans in both popular and scholarly circles. The series, part historical, part fictional, takes place in the 1870s, a time explicitly marked by the forward movement of colonial expansion. It is set in the illegal settler camp of Deadwood, in the shadow of the Black Hills of what is now South Dakota, what was long part of Lakota Indian territory.
As historians would remind us, that territory was the subject of a treaty that promised that no white people would enter without the express permission of the tribes, a treaty which promised the Army would remove any settlers who did come, and a treaty, like so many other treaties, whose terms were violated. For the hills held gold, and prospectors came, and gold was taken, and an outlaw town sprung up, providing goods and services to those with gold, and people flooded to it, and fortunes were won and lost, and the illegal settlers were not removed, and the outlaw town was eventually made legitimate. Hundreds of thousands of Indian peoples of course lost their lives or were displaced as the colonizing settler society spread over the land. . . .