The Great Plains are as rich and integral a part of American literature as they are of the North American landscape. In this volume the stories, poems, and essays that have described, celebrated, and defined the region evoke the world of the American prairie from the first recorded days of Native history to the realities of life on a present-day reservation, from the arrival of European explorers to the experience of early settlers, from the splendor of the vast and rolling grasslands to the devastation of the Dust Bowl. Several essays look to the future and explore changes that would embolden the people of the Plains to continue to call home this place they have learned to value in spite of its persistent challenges.
The infinite variety of the Great Plains landscape and its people unfolds in works by writers as diverse as Willa Cather, Loren Eiseley, Louise Erdrich (Ojibwe), Diane Glancy (Cherokee), Langston Hughes, Wes Jackson, Garrison Keillor, William Least Heat-Moon, Kathleen Norris, Wright Morris, Francis Parkman, O. E. Rölvaag, Mari Sandoz, William Stafford, Mark Twain, Douglas Unger, James Welch (Blackfeet), and Canadians Sharon Butala and Sinclair Ross. From tribal histories to the impressions of travelers today, from tales of isolation and nature’s furious storms to accounts of efforts to build communities, from flights of fancy to nuanced observations of the ecology of the grasslands, this comprehensive volume provides a history of the intricate relationships of land and people in the Great Plains.