Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Plains

This is the area White seems to have spent the most time on. He gives us information on the lifestyle, religion and combat of the nomadic herdsmen. Two of the three nations he talks about are ones significantly shaped by them. The only one thing he leaves blank about the region is system of government, and to be honest, we probably only need to seemore for the tribes outside the Great Plains (And which take place outside the historic U.S.). In short, it seems this culture holds a special fascination for him. It probably also bears the most explanation, because we're not used to grassland cultures in pre-industrial times. Any look at a map will tell you countries are coasts. So what would culture look like in a sea of grass?

It's probably best described as cowboys and Indians rolled into one, with a little bit of the Mongol empire, and maybe a dash of Viking. Some say White was inspired by the Horseclan novels, but the lifestyle does make sense. In many ways, it's just a reversion to the pre-industrial free-grazers, settlers and natives. It's very easy to imagine society turning out this way. Many of the towns are quite distant from another, and have been most able to thrive with modern transport like planes, trains or even just automobiles. Cities turned to farms. Farms turned to ranches. Ranches eventually went mobile. The population density was just too scarce
for settled communities to work out, and city limits dissolved. The Herdsmen don't have towns, so it's hard to tell when they have actual nations. The West Map shows two particular Cowboy nations. Territory belonging to the Rizzinis, and Territory belonging to the Anderson. There might also be yet another tribe indicated by this map.

The Rizzini Tribe is talked about as one of the most powerful, and its flag of a deer's skull is certainly imposing. It conjures up images of bikers, who one can suppose these barbarian tribes resemble to a degree.

The Black Hills does seem to be one of the more relatively settled communities. The area extends from roughly South Dakota to Wyoming. White says it's a location for pilgrims, although the herdsmen map indicates quite a lot of people live there. As a result, there are probably entire camps in the Black Hills. The eventually move on, but this may be where festivals, trade and metalwork takes place. In fact, I've actually been wondering about trade. it's widely considered a neutral territory by all herdsmen clans? Does this only specifically apply to the cowboy tribes, or could anyone pass through the Black Hills? it would explain why Utah has superseded Colorado as a trading crux. Of course, being "allowed" might not even stop traders anyways. Caravans likely doll up their wagons like herdsmen, much like the frontier men would dress up like Indians in the days of pioneering.

There are probably countless tribes, but I wonder if there are certain kinds of nations. The main atlas, and the population map seemed to go by a rule of three for states that took place in the plains. I also noticed Dakota and Colorado switched places they do in today's borders. The third "nation" seems to be Texas. It probably does make sense it would be these three. For all of White's fascination with this culture, it seems to be on a wane. The Wyoming tribes seem to have been conquered, and possibly absorbed by Deseret. Kansas and Nebraska kept their eyes on the east, and have been absorbed into the culture of Iowa. That leaves Oklahoma, and I can very easily imagine Texas declaring war and wiping them out. The really interesting part is, evidence shows this may not be all there is of Texas.

Much of Plains Texas is held under what's considered "Anderson Territory". Once the second largest state and crossroads between wildly different cultures, its shrunk to a small amount of its size, but retains an interesting aspect. Looking at the government map, the area is operated by feudalism. Houston seems to remain a major city. Yet, the area is primarily New Israelite. This lends itself to one of two possibilities; One is that the southern front has conquered these areas, and a few warlords oppress the New Israelite population. Another is that this is a nation of herdsmen that decided to mix agriculture with their usual herding lifestyle. (Either that, or the Herdsmen came out of this settled community) think the towns may look a lot like the early Anglo-Saxon settlements, but with a bit of an old west vibe. They don't have elaborate cathedrals, but chapels with ministers usually specifically part of the warlord's court. (Or conversely, the ministers may have their own following--think famous prophets from the Bible) I'm not sure how the relationship between the herdsmen and the farmers who's culture they resemble get on--though maybe the Texan nomads see them as reasonably pragmatic. The east of Texas is too swampy for pasture, and this aberration of society does exist as a good buffer between the nomads and the Non-Denominational Church.

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