The Greater Plains


The Greater Plains

Rethinking a Region's Environmental Histories

Edited by Brian Frehner and Kathleen A. Brosnan

406 pages
10 photos, 5 illustrations, 8 maps, 3 tables, 3 figures, index


July 2021


$30.00 Add to Cart

July 2021


$99.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2021


$30.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

July 2021


$30.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

The Greater Plains tells a new story of a region, stretching from the state of Texas to the province of Alberta, where the environments are as varied as the myriad ways people have inhabited them. These innovative essays document a complicated history of human interactions with a sometimes plentiful and sometimes foreboding landscape, from the Native Americans who first shaped the prairies with fire to twentieth-century oil regimes whose pipelines linked the region to the world.

The Greater Plains moves beyond the narrative of ecological desperation that too often defines the region in scholarly works and in popular imagination. Using the lenses of grasses, animals, water, and energy, the contributors reveal tales of human adaptation through technologies ranging from the travois to bookkeeping systems and hybrid wheat. Transnational in its focus and interdisciplinary in its scholarship, The Greater Plains brings together leading historians, geographers, anthropologists, and archaeologists to chronicle a past rich with paradoxical successes and failures, conflicts and cooperation, but also continual adaptation to the challenging and ever-shifting environmental conditions of the North American heartland.


Author Bio

Brian Frehner is an associate professor of history at University of Missouri–Kansas City. He is the author of Finding Oil: The Nature of Petroleum Geology, 1859–1920 (Nebraska, 2011), winner of the Hal K. Rothman Prize, and coeditor of Indians and Energy: Exploitation and Opportunity in the American Southwest. Kathleen A. Brosnan is Paul and Doris Easton Travis Chair of History at the University of Oklahoma. She is the author or coeditor of a number of books, including City of Lake and Prairie: Chicago’s Environmental History and Mapping Nature across the Americas.



"The Greater Plains achieves the difficult task of weaving together research spanning eight hundred years of history into a coherent whole. The result is a bold interdisciplinary collection of research that will be valuable to scholars of history, archeology, Native American studies, ecology, and geography."—Jacob Schmidt, South Dakota History

"The Greater Plains provides a needed reinterpretation of environmental issues on the Great Plains by placing emphasis on the daily process of change rather than on major events."—Blake Johnson, Montana: The Magazine of Western History

“This compendium offers readers cutting-edge research about the Great Plains in a transnational context. Through various categories of analysis, each essay makes substantial contributions to the sociocultural, environmental, agricultural, political, and technological histories of the region.”—David D. Vail, author of Chemical Lands: Pesticides, Aerial Spraying, and Health in North America’s Grasslands since 1945

“The pieces are organized in such a manner as to provide multiple new insights and collectively reframe plains history as a set of interconnected and seamless stories that reveal human relationships to be the mainstays of the plains environment. This anthology will be a very useful contribution to environmental and Great Plains history.”—Leisl Carr Childers, author of The Size of the Risk: Histories of Multiple Use in the Great Basin

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Brian Frehner and Kathleen A. Brosnan
Part 1. Indigenous Grassland Adaptations over the Longue Durée
1. Before the Horse: Indigenous Food Systems on the Plains, 1300–1680
Natale Zappia
2. Travois Trails: Mobile Lifeways of Nineteenth-Century Plains Indian Women
Leila Monaghan
3. Bison Hunters and Prairie Fires: A View from the Northwestern Plains
María Nieves Zedeño, Christopher Roos, Kacy Hollenback, and Mary Hagen Erlick
4. To Know the Story behind It: Indigenous Heritage and Buffalo Hunting on the Northern Plains
Geneviève Susemihl
Part 2. Animals on the Great Plains
5. Kinscapes and the Buffalo Chase: The Genesis of Nineteenth-Century Plains Métis Hunting Brigades
Nicole St-Onge and Brenda Macdougall
6. Fauna and Flux on the Plains’ Edge: Animal Kinship, Place Making, and Cherokee Relational Continuity
Clint Carroll
7. Bison and Bookkeeping: Accounting for an Environmental Imagination in Great Plains Trading Posts
George Colpitts
8. An Uncommon Nuisance: Cattle Feeding, Nuisance Complaints, and Legal Remedies on the Southern Plains
Jacob A. Blackwell
Part 3. Modern Agriculture and the Transformation of the Plains
9. Measuring Expertise: Ralph Parshall and Watershed Management, 1920–1940
Michael Weeks
10. A “Plow to Save the Plains”: Conservation Tillage on the North American Grasslands, 1938–1973
Joshua Nygren
11. From Wheat to Wheaties: Minneapolis, the Great Plains, and the Transformation of American Food
Michael J. Lansing
12. “Nature Rarely Establishes Sharp Boundaries”: Settler Society Agricultural Adaptation in the Great Plains Northwest
Molly P. Rozum
Part 4. Energy Landscapes
13. Energy Heartland: How the Midcontinent Pipeline System Fueled and Fouled the Great Plains
Philip A. Wight
14. Places of Overburden: Strip Mining and Reclamation on the Northern Great Plains
Ryan Driskell Tate
15. Encountering Oil Cultures in a Prairie Town
Jonathan Peyton and Matthew Dyce
16. Blows Like Hell: The Windy Plains of the West
Julie Courtwright

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