The first hour of this series about the deep and surprising history of Appalachia explores the region's unique mosaic of plant, animal and early human life. As Pulitzer Prize-winning scientist E.O. Wilson notes, "A history of a region includes not just the people, but the creatures and the living environment." Geology is destiny. The Appalachian Mountains hold their treasure of mineral and timber wealth because they were born of a primeval ocean. Early North Americans settled here because giant mammals gave them vast food supplies. Over thousands of years, they formed highly sophisticated cultures, until 1540 when Hernando de Soto ruined them in his violent, single-minded hunt for gold. The tribes that remained after de Soto's brutal swath adopted the gun as their chief technology. England, Spain and France would court these skilled hunters and warriors as allies in the early struggle to dominate America. Academy Award-winning actress Sissy Spacek narrates.