Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The concept that the Great Plains environment has altered or repelled basic institutions of the society which settled the region is examined in this thesis by means of evaluation of the initial settlement patterns in an area of east-central North Dakota. The thesis seeks to identify differences in the traditional or chosen exploitive practices of distinct ethnic or national groups within a sample of Euro-American and American Indian settlers, by means of examination of the ecological sub-zones chosen by each group for settlement locations. The non-ecological historical factors of railroad construction, relative time of settlement, and influences of the Indian agents are also considered in evaluating the causes and implications of the settlement patterns.

Initial settlement of the study area began in 1867 with the establishment of the Devils Lake Sioux Reservation. Indian settlers on the reservation initially occupied territories concentric to band and family settlements, and developed economic self-sufficiency through communal subsistence gardening. The resident Indian agents encouraged adoption )f an export economy based on wheat production, however, and by the mid-1880's subsistence crops were only a negligible portion of all crops grown. Dichotomy of opinion within the United States government about Indian policy contributed to the variety of ecological zones included in the individual Indian allotment settlements established after 1890.

Euro-American settlement locations also included a variety of ecological zones suitable for several kinds of agricultural exploitation. Comoarison of the settlement locations of the ethnic or national grouts indicates that settlers who originated in the least industrialized nations were most inclined to choose lands suitable for subsistence or diversified exploitation, and settlers from Canada and the British Isles were most inclined to choose land suitable for export grain production. The settlers who were most . ’X knowledgeable about the American frontier and economic traditions were apparently influenced strongly in their choice of settlement locations by considerations of land value appreciation and exploitation through sale of the land itself.