High Plains Public Radio

Paul Phillips

Endowment Committee Chair, Board of Directors

Community:  Hays, KS
Profession:  Professor, Geoscience/Geography, Fort Hays State University

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Paul Phillips

From the Panhandle of Texas to the southern regions of South Dakota, the High Plains has a landscape generally characterized as flat and monotonous. American explorers traveling west from the eastern wooded areas were not impressed with the “sea of grasses” they found covering the region, and proclaimed the area to be part of the “Great American Desert” unfit for agricultural settlement. American settlement arrived later, but this sea of grass was already home to many pastoral tribes, including the Comanche - peoples who had developed a nomadic lifestyle, following and hunting the more than 60 million buffalo that moved in herds across these vast grasslands. As you will read in the Empire of the Summer Moon by S. C. Gwynne , the buffalo was key to the Comanche’s survival, providing food, shelter, and tools.