Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in Great Plains Quarterly [GPQ 8 (Fall 1988): 206-221]. Copyright 1988 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


Although the words Great Plains imply a physical region, they have been increasingly used to describe a distinctive set of cultural traits and values. The tone was set in 1931 when Walter Prescott Webb argued that attitudes and land uses brought to the Plains from humid lands would fail. Aridity, he said, was the central fact of existence in this place; it demanded a new approach to life. 1