The Russian hunting expedition that serves as the basis for conflict with the Sioux tribes of the Dakotas in the miniseries, is based on the actual highly publicized state visit to the United States by Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia in 1871-72. The miniseries fictionalizes the historic meeting between the Sioux, the visiting Russians and their US Army hosts, into fabricated subplots of hostility and violence that devolve into a melodramatic tale of poaching, kidnapping, murder, political crisis, warfare and genocide before the absurdity reaches its climax with a ritual suicide. Thankfully, history records a far more benign encounter with the Sioux during the Grand Duke's visit. US Army preparations for the hunt were conducted well in advance of the Russian hunting expedition. The assistance of William "Buffalo" Cody was employed in negotiations with the Sioux. Rather than being itinerant poachers on Sioux lands as portrayed in the miniseries, the US government provided the Sioux tribes under Chief Spotted Tail with a wagon train containing tons of coffee, sugar, tobacco and other provisions in exchange for the use of the Sioux hunting grounds. Spotted Tail and hundreds of warriors greeted the expedition at the expedition's camp and received the Grand Duke and his party as guests of the Sioux nation. Not only did the Sioux approve of the hunt, they participated in it, being eager to demonstrate their style of horsemanship and marksmanship to the "great white chief from across the water".