Essay Example: Influence of Geography on the United States

Published: 2024-01-02
Essay Example: Influence of Geography on the United States
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  United States Geography Society
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 925 words
8 min read


The United States forms part of the North American continent that stretches from the Isthmus of Panama in the south to the islands of Aleutian in the northwest. The country’s physical geography, resources, environment, and human geography all contribute to its development (National Geographic, 2020). Its human landscape also closely mirrors its rich physical environment and constantly changing. Over time, the people of the United States, among other countries in North America have intensively worked with and against their immediate environs to prosper and survive. The paper addresses the development of the Plain Indians, outlining the effect of the environment on their tribal culture and wealth. It also highlights an aspect of geography that still affects us today.

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Native American Society (The Plains Indians)

The great plains covered parts of ten states along with the western parts of the United States and stretched from Texas to Montana, and into Canada. This stretch totals over half or a million square miles. To the west of the Great Plains are the Rocky Mountains (National Geographic, 2020). Tall prairie grass covered the great plains, including some rivers and creeks. This made it possible for animals such as the herds of the wild buffalo, that could survive in the dry conditions. This spurred the culture of hunting and nomadism among the Plain Indians who hunted them for their hides, which were later turned into leather for shoes among other vital products (National Geographic, 2020). They followed the seasonal grazing and migration of the American bison, which was the primary source of food, and the hides and bones were used to create clothing, tools, and dwellings.

The climate in the plains also enhanced the culture of farming along the major waterways. This caused them to start planting squash, beans, and corn. They also harvested plants for medicinal purposes. The men hunted while the women farmed and gathered (Pauls, 2020). This led to a combination of sedentary and nomadic settings, all of which were well-supported by the plains. They would establish villages and plant crops in spring, harvest them in the fall, and hunt during summer and winter seasons. The vastness of the plains encouraged the Plains Indians to establish nomadic lifestyles, where they followed favorable weather patterns, animal migrations, and natural agricultural cycles.

The introduction of horses brought a new dimension to the Plains Indians on the aspect of wealth and its creation. It led to the plain societies becoming less egalitarian. The men with the most horses had the highest social status, political impact, and economic power (Pauls, 2020). This led to the development of trade and increased wealth in the society as buffalo blankets, robes, and beads were used in exchange for guns and horses. However, the aspect of the accumulation of individual wealth and land was not an incentive among the Plain Indians, as it was for the Europeans. Most American Indian cultures shared their surplus food and any other necessities with those who had little. Trade took the form of giving, where one would give items of value to another with the expectation of receiving a gift in return someday (Pauls, 2020). Different societies had different rules of behavior that influenced their decisions and incentives. While the Plain Indians faced the major problem of deciding on how to use the available scarce resources, their decisions were often influenced by behavioral rules that varied from one culture to another.

Aspect of Geography as it Affects US Today

The contemporary societies of North America are highly influenced by the rich and varied geographical environment in the country. This has led to the societies developing complex and more efficient ways of profiting, and comfortable interacting with the existing geographical resources. The economic base of North America is now largely centered on the development, extraction, and trade of natural resources. The national governments, local communities, and regional organizations use natural resources. The plains currently provide some of the best farmland in the world (Gutmann et al., 2005). As a vital crop in American society, wheat, which requires little rainfall to grow well, occupies large areas of the great plains. There are also large farms and cattle ranches in the plans that are used for grazing cattle.

Another new and good aspect of the plains is the winds that blow over it. The wind is now being used to rotate the blades of the windmills that generate electricity (Fargione et al., 2012). Mostly, these gigantic windmills are built on the farmlands. Therefore, the farmers can still grow and get revenue from their crops, while receiving money from the electricity company for the use of their farmland. These make the Great Plains, a vital part of geography that positively affects us today.


To conclude, the Great Plains were and still are a vital part of the United States. They led to the establishment of the Plains Indians who form part of the native American societies. It contributed to the development of Plains Indians’ tribal culture and wealth. It also positively affects us today, by providing revenues through agriculture and the provision of energy.


Fargione, J. et al. (2012). Wind and wildlife in the Northern Great Plains: Identifying low-impact areas for wind development. Plos One Journals.

Gutmann, M. et al. (2005). Population and environment in the U.S. Great Plains.

National Geographic (2020). North America: Human Geography.

Pauls, E. (2020). Plains Indians. Britannica.

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