Grasslands Grown: Creating Place on the U.S. Northern Plains and Canadian Prairies

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Article number: Rozum GG
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Molly Rozum was a featured speaker at our 68th annual Willa Cather Spring Conference, June 1-3. 

In Grasslands Grown Molly P. Rozum explores the two related concepts of regional identity and sense of place by examining a single North American ecological region: the U.S. Great Plains and the Canadian Prairie Provinces. All or parts of modern-day Alberta, Montana, Saskatchewan, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Manitoba form the center of this transnational region.

As children, the first postconquest generation of northern grasslands residents worked, played, and traveled with domestic and wild animals, which introduced them to ecology and shaped sense-of-place rhythms. As adults, members of this generation of settler society worked to adapt to the northern grasslands by practicing both agricultural diversification and environmental conservation.

Rozum argues that environmental awareness, including its ecological and cultural aspects, is key to forming a sense of place and a regional identity. The two concepts overlap and reinforce each other: place is more local, ecological, and emotional-sensual, and region is more ideational, national, and geographic in tone. This captivating study examines the growth of place and regional identities as they took shape within generations and over the life cycle.

University of Nebraska Press: 2021 | Paperbound | 500 pages

About the Author

Molly P. Rozum is associate professor and Ronald R. Nelson Chair of Great Plains and South Dakota History at the University of South Dakota. She is the coeditor of Equality at the Ballot Box: Votes for Women on the Northern Great Plains and editor of Small-Town Boy, Small-Town Girl: Growing Up in South Dakota, 1920–1950.


"Rozum overcomes the methodological compartmentalization that often hinders studies of regionalism, intermixing literary analysis, historical geography, and environmental history."

—R. L. Dorman, Choice

"Rozum's book is clear, engaging, and well argued. It deserves a place on the bookshelves of scholars who study settler placemaking, the North American grasslands, the northern borderlands, and the ways the interaction of culture and environment fosters senses of place and regional identity creation."

—Anthony Carlson, H-Environment

"Rozum highlights a great internal conflict of many grasslands settlers: pride in the environment and a great sense of connection to it, but shame at its lack of 'real' culture and disdain (even self-directed loathing) for those who stayed. It is for this reason that anyone interested in the cultural environmental history of the Great Plains and Canadian Prairies should read Grasslands Grown." 

—Laura Larsen, NiCHE 

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