The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932 Page: 170
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
In the development of this thesis the writer follows the special-
ists in geology and physiography in explaining that the Great
Plains have been formed by the wearing down of mountains and
the spreading of debris on a foot-slope. In this respect they stand
in contrast to the plains of the seashore which have been built by
delta formations. The climate of the Plains (the ninety-eighth
meridian is taken as their eastern border) has many distinguish-
ing characteristics. Besides a deficiency in water, high winds,
blizzards, northers, and comparatively frequent hailstorms are
unusual conditions which civilization had to meet and overcome
in that region. The animals of the Plains emphasize the con-
trast between the treeless and timbered country. The antelope,
the jack rabbit, the prairie dog (a "burrowing squirrel" errone-
ously called a dog) exhibit certain common characteristics, qual-
ities that have enabled them to survive in level arid lands. They
depend on speed for safety, they can subsist on little water or
even without water, and they possess extraordinary vitality.
The Indians of the Great Plains also stand in striking con-
trast to their kinsmen of the East. They were tall and long-
legged, nomadic, non-agricultural, warlike, and depended on the
buffalo for subsistence. In this land, where "the eye far outruns
the ear in its range," and where communication at a great dis-
tance was often essential, the savages developed the sign lan-
guage, one of the most effective systems of communication ever
devised. The Plains Indians survived because they shaped their
implements and institutions to suit their country. Horses were
brought in by Europeans, the Indians soon acquired and mas-
tered these animals, and when mounted the Indian of the Plains
was transformed into an inveterate wanderer, a successful hunter,
and the fiercest warrior on the continent. The Spaniards could
not, or at least did not, extend their empire into the Plains and
the Mexicans even receded and gave up some settlements before
the onslaughts of the terrible Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches.
The Spanish and Mexican systems were not suited to the Plains
and efforts to extend them into that part of the continent re-
sulted in signal failure.
In their first efforts to take the Plains the Anglo-Americans
were not much more successful than the Spaniards had been.
On the margin of this vast expanse of territory, this "Great
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932, periodical, 1932; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101092/m1/174/: accessed November 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.