The Russian hunting expedition that served as the basis for conflict with the Sioux tribes of the Dakotas in the miniseries is based on an actual highly publicized state visit to the US by Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich of Russia in 1871-72. The miniseries fictionalized the historic meeting among 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 F. Cody (aka "Buffalo Bill") was employed in negotiations with the Sioux. Rather than being itinerant poachers on Sioux lands, as utilized 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 its 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".
The first shot of the title sequence where the camera zooms over the treetops of Oregon's Rogue River was first used in "Gunsmoke" (1955), Season 18, Episodes one and two, "The River: Parts 1 & 2"", which was filmed along the Rogue River.