We the People of the Great Plains


Dylan Yoder

If you were anything like me as a kid you probably disliked growing up and living in “flat, boring” Kansas. As a kid full of imagination at the possibility of exotic places, my mind was always wandering to the ideas of mountains, oceans, and great tall rainforests. That being said, it’s important to remember that we too come from a place full of wonder and amazement. While the Great Plains may not look like much to outside eyes, it’s important to remember how our homeland was. We are prairie folk, and the land we come from is home to miles and miles of grassland, agriculture, and the most unpredictable weather patterns in North America. That being said, let’s take a look at some things that make the Great Plains one of the most amazing places to be from.
Starting off with the history of the prairie land. In a time before our grandparent’s grandparents, the great plains were home to miles and miles worth of natural prairie land. Occasionally, a tree-dotted the landscape, but for the most part, open grassland was the way of this land. Upon this grassland, we all are well aware of the millions and millions of American Bison that roamed the untamed land. Wind swept through this sea of green completely unobstructed, reaching incredible speeds that we don’t really get with modern wind blocks. That being said, the incredible wind is no foreign concept to us prairie folk. Additionally, something that people don’t often know about our home is the fact that grass fires were a very natural and vital part of our ecosystem. In ancient times, there were no firefighters to put out said fires, so the ecology of the land adapted to replant itself over and over again, regardless of what setbacks it feels. A trait that is shared by the people of this land.
This land shapes how we feel about our home, but I would venture to say that it also shapes the way we are as people. The people of the Plains are hardy and have the ability to stick it out in the midst of great struggles, much like the ability of the prairie to survive and come back year after year of fires. We’re hardworking and can weather even the hardest storms. In the prairie, we get the weather of all other lands, and as such, we experience some of the most diverse forms of stormy and clear days. Yet, despite all of that, we’re still here, just as the grassland from years past remained ever-present.
In today’s world, it’s hard to observe the natural prairie. Only 4% of the Great Plains remains from years past, with a loss of 2.5 million acres of prairie land alone in 2015 and 2016. These natural grassland areas are primarily lost to agricultural expansion, as well as complete disregard for prairie life in general. Instead of cultivating the natural, plentiful plants and grasses of the prairie, we continually plant exotic species such as fescue grass in our lawns, and what for? Foreign grasses and plants may look nice during the fall season, but require incredible amounts of water and force the destruction of natural grassland ecosystems. If you’d like to know more about sustainable planting and lawn use in the Great Plains, please see Dyck Arboretum in Hesston, Kansas.
Overall, we should be proud of the land that we’ve all grown up on and lived off of for generations. We are prairie folk, and the land we come from is home to miles and miles of grassland, agriculture, and the most unpredictable weather patterns in North America. And there is pride in being able to call this place home.


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