Adaptations by Tribal and Modern Populations to the North American Great Plains and Other Arid and Semiarid Lands: A Survey of Issues and Problems
John Wesley Powell’s famous “Report on the Arid Lands of the United States” classified as arid lands the entire Great Plains west of the 100th meridian—not merely the drier western half. Powell, writing in the 1870s as the Native American populations of the West were meeting defeat, had relatively modest expectations for American civilization on the Plains and accordingly emphasized the limiting effects of shortages of water and other basic resources. He acknowledged that human expansion would occur and that an economy could emerge, but only with great effort (Powell 1962). A Canadian analogue to Powell’s report, written by John Palliser (1859), drew even more pessimistic conclusions with respect to the Canadian section of the Plains.