The role that land plays in the American psyche is evident throughout our culture and has been present since the first peoples migrated to our continent thousands of years ago. Throughout our history, land acquisition and the benefits that come along with that have fueled our ancestors to see what’s on the other side of the far ridge, discover the wildlife that inhabits the next river bottom, and save every extra penny they can to have their own piece of Creation. The importance of land in American culture cannot be overstated.
It is no surprise that some of the household names that are held in the highest regard are those such as Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, Jim Bridger, Teddy Roosevelt, Aldo Leopold, and Gifford Pichot. Their fascination with exploration and the way that North America’s ecosystems work so intricately together have captured the imaginations of generations of Americans.
Native Americans were drawn to this continent thousands of years ago, no doubt chasing the hoards of game animals that sustained them. They did this for generations, chasing the great bison herds and many other types of game, as well as warring with other tribes for territory. This fueled them to inhabit every region of the future United States. Ten Bears, a chief of the Comanche people, stated it well:
“I was born on the prairie where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures and where everything drew a free breath. I want to die there and not within walls. I know every stream and every wood between the Rio Grande and Arkansas. I have hunted and lived over the country. I lived like my fathers before me, and like them, I lived happily…we only wish to wander on the prairie til we die.”
Historical Figures in Land Exploration
The renowned long-hunter, Daniel Boone, famously ventured over what was by many considered the wall to Western movement, the Appalachian Mountains, for many long hunts. He and others with him were hiking in the American West in search of white-tailed deer, whose hides were in high demand in the East. He was, no doubt, fueled by an insatiable wanderlust and curiosity about what was over the next ridge or on the other side of the next river. About the wild lands of the American West, Boone said, “The forest was not merely an assemblage of trees, but was a living, breathing world, with its own mysterious, almost human influences.”
The 26th President and one of the Fathers of the Conservation Movement, Teddy Roosevelt, was significantly impacted by his numerous forays into the wild lands of America. He set forth many initiatives and conservation efforts that we still enjoy today like the millions of acres of public land that Americans can hunt and recreate on, as well as game laws that made it so we have great numbers of wildlife to see and hunt. When speaking of the impact that wild places had on him and continue to have on anyone who experiences them, Roosevelt stated, “There is a delight in the hardy life of the open. There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm. The nation behaves well if it treats the natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased and not impaired in value. Conservation means development as much as it does protection.”
Modern Day Outdoor Recreation
The impact of this conservation movement is still felt today, even in our modern day of technology and innovation, with millions of Americans harboring that spirit of exploration and draw to the outdoors that our ancestors had before us. In a 2023 study, it was found that about 54.4 million Americans participated in hunting and/or fishing, spending over $394 billion on those activities; and many more were spending time in wind places hiking, kayaking, camping, and more. We are still enamored by the plains, mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and deserts that reside in the United States and many conservation initiatives reflect this passion as well. Land and land ownership remain an intrinsic part of American culture.
One of the great things about this country is that you can own and manage your own piece of wild ground! Managing the property with prescribed burns, restoring native prairie, and planting native trees to help wildlife are an adventure in and of themselves. So get out, see what’s on the other side of the next river, hike over the next ridgeline, and keep the spirit of wildlife conservation and land exploration in America alive!
If you are interested in buying and/or managing your own piece of land in Oklahoma, give me a call at (405) 974-1754 or email Chayes@NationalLand.com.