\'O Pioneers\'

Until the late eighteenth century, any land located beyond the Alleghany mountains
was believed to be savage, uninhabited land. Thus, it became known as the American
frontier. According to Turner, the definition of frontier means, "the meeting point
between savagery and civilization and a region of sparse settlement." 1 With the
overwhelming number of frontiersmen invading this uninhabited land, many myths about
winning the West arose, some containing truth, while others neglecting to tell the truth
about treatment of Indians. Many of these myths referred to them as being the victims of
white man\'s progress. In the short tale, O Pioneers, written by Willa Cather in 1913, tells
a tale of the oncoming future of the Great Plains. Although this tale tells about the great
fortune of the plains, it forgets to mention the heartaches of the Native Americans.

Willa Cather was born December 7 , 1873 in a town west of Winchester, Virginia.2
In 1884, the Cather\'s moved their four children to a town called Red Cloud in Nebraska
where they arrived to a place uninhabited, but with much fortune and hard work ahead of
them. 3 In 1890, Willa attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she gained the
knowledge and creativity to write such beautiful work. In her first works, Willa\'s
animosity towards Nebraska was relevant in her work. 4 After she went east in 1896 and
became editor of McClure\'s Magazine and gained success, her feeling toward Nebraska
changed, which was evident in "The Bohemian Girl," in 1912. 5

When she published O Pioneers in 1913, many of her memories of childhood and
life on the prairie were depicted in the tale. For example, a phrase in the tale O Pioneers is
a memoir of the Divide when she was a child:
"The variegated field, are all one colour now; the pastures, the stubble, the roads,
the sky the same keaden gray. The frozen ground is so hard it bruises the foot to walk in
the roads or in the ploughed fields." 6

After the quick rise of her successful career, Cather wrote many more wonderful
works that revolved around her home . . . the Divide. Willa Cather died on April 24, 1947
in New York City as a celebrated person and a talented author.

The Great Plains, America\'s largest openland frontier, may be defined as the region
between the 98th meridian on the east and the Rocky Mountains on the west and
extending from southern Texas up to the forested area in northeastern Canada. 7 The
climate of the Great Plains is distinguished by its unpredictable weather, low rainfall, high
winds and immoderate temperatures throughout the seasons.

When the settlers from most European countries came to inhabit the new,
unsettled land, they had no idea what was in store for them concerning weather and the
Indian tribes of the land. The plains Indians created the worst threat to the white man that
began to advance into the frontier. These tribesmen were difficult to control since they
were nomadic and took their homes with them and lived off the land. 8 The Indians
followed the buffalo, as it was their main source of food and clothing. When the white
man drove the buffalo off the land, the Indians were forced to stay on reservations created
by the white man. Reservations were made because the frontiersman couldn\'t obey their
property regulations.

In the book, O Pioneers, it does not reflect upon the Indians right for the land, in
fact, it disregards them from the life of the Divide. In 1854, treaties with the tribal
Indians began, which paved the way for white settlers to open up the plains territory. 9
These treaties initiated settlement of Nebraska, where the tale O Pioneers takes place.
The aborigines occupied the land as tribal land, but as Klose states, it was not privately
owned. Therefore, the government made the treaties so the territorial ownership by the
tribes would not be recognized, keeping the whites out. However, intrusions could not be
stopped. The white man did not want free, fertile land to go to waste on the Indians
when, Christian men lived in want." 10 The federal government found it impossible to
enforce the obedience to its own laws much less agreements with Indians. An example of
this land intrusion in the book O Pioneers is stated on page 3811, when Alexandra
Bergson, the main character in the book, wants to buy 1,400 more acres of land, the only
concern is where she will get the money