The Frontier Thesis established by Fredric Jackson Turned in 1893 was poised to explain American development through the acquisition of virgin land. The land he described was not virgin, but in fact occupied by Native Americans. This essay looks at these Native Americans with the Frontier Thesis as a backdrop. This thesis examines how factors of the frontier altered Plains Indian society so that it became more skilled at war but lacked sustainability. It does this by outlining the historiography of the frontier in Western history, investigating the Great Plains environment and early history, and examining three causal factors towards Plains Indian society. The three factors examined are horses, guns, and disease, respectively. The conclusion drawn from this essay is that Plains Indian growth was severely limited by its dependency on the environment and European trade. The Great Plains region today still struggles with the economic demands of the environment. It is an issue that has yet to end for Americans or Native Americans.


Sene, Ibra




Cultural History | History of Science, Technology, and Medicine | United States History


plains indians, horses, disease, guns, comanche, west, Turner, frontier

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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