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The other commenters have written interesting things, indeed. The start of the movie had a reference to it being set in 1830. That is not "post-Civil War". It is thirty years before it. The setting is even a decade and a half before the Mexican-American War, thus being prior to the U.S. conquering what is now the southwestern United States and seizing it from the Mexicans. Pike was not a "cowboy", but rather a fur trapper, and it was the Indians who stole their pack horses and gear who killed his partner, with an arrow. Pike did not murder his partner. The setting was all wrong. The primary fur sought by the trappers was beaver, used mainly for the fashionable top hats of the eastern United States and Europe. The Europeans had already exterminated the beaver in much of its range in Europe due to over-harvesting. Beavers do not live in a desert, nor do any other furbearing animals that were being sought.
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