Hugh Sidey's America: Where the Buffalo Roamed

Plagued by hard times and harsh weather, the Great Plains may be stumbling back to a frontier existence dominated by prairie grass, solitude and wandering beasts

On the surface there is not much about Bill Mathers to bring to mind Augustus McCrae or Woodrow Call, the gritty cattle drivers of the epic novel and television mini-series Lonesome Dove. Too much civilization has piled up in the corners of Mathers' face and body.

But more than a century after the time of that story, Mathers rode their trail, sank his roots into their grasslands and adapted to the big weathers and financial buffetings of the Great Plains. Storms natural and political have raged there forever, and another is blowing this summer. Mathers will survive as he always has,...

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