The Missouri River is the longest river in North America. Rising in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, the Missouri flows east and south for 2,341 miles before entering the Mississippi River north of St. Louis, Missouri; the river takes drainage from a sparsely populated, semi-arid watershed of more than half a million square miles, which includes parts of ten U. S. states and two Canadian provinces. When combined with the lower Mississippi River, it forms the world's fourth longest river system. For over 12,000 years, people have depended on the Missouri River and its tributaries as a source of sustenance and transportation. More than ten major groups of Native Americans populated the watershed, most leading a nomadic lifestyle and dependent on enormous bison herds that roamed through the Great Plains; the first Europeans encountered the river in the late seventeenth century, the region passed through Spanish and French hands before becoming part of the United States through the Louisiana Purchase.
The Missouri River was one of the main routes for the westward expansion of the United States during the 19th century. The growth of the fur trade in the early 19th century laid much of the groundwork as trappers explored the region and blazed trails. Pioneers headed west en masse beginning in the 1830s, first by covered wagon by the growing numbers of steamboats that entered service on the river. Settlers took over former Native American lands in the watershed, leading to some of the most longstanding and violent wars against indigenous peoples in American history. During the 20th century, the Missouri River basin was extensively developed for irrigation, flood control and the generation of hydroelectric power. Fifteen dams impound the main stem of the river, with hundreds more on tributaries. Meanders have been cut and the river channelized to improve navigation, reducing its length by 200 miles from pre-development times. Although the lower Missouri valley is now a populous and productive agricultural and industrial region, heavy development has taken its toll on wildlife and fish populations as well as water quality.
From the Rocky Mountains of Montana and Wyoming, three streams rise to form the headwaters of the Missouri River: the longest begins near Brower's Spring, 9,100 feet above sea level on the southeastern slopes of Mount Jefferson in the Centennial Mountains. From there it flows west north, it passes through Canyon Ferry Lake, a reservoir west of the Big Belt Mountains. Issuing from the mountains near Cascade, the river flows northeast to the city of Great Falls, where it drops over the Great Falls of the Missouri, a series of five substantial waterfalls, it winds east through a scenic region of canyons and badlands known as the Missouri Breaks, receiving the Marias River from the west widening into the Fort Peck Lake reservoir a few miles above the confluence with the Musselshell River. Farther on, the river passes through the Fort Peck Dam, downstream, the Milk River joins from the north. Flowing eastward through the plains of eastern Montana, the Missouri receives the Poplar River from the north before crossing into North Dakota where the Yellowstone River, its greatest tributary by volume, joins from the southwest.
At the confluence, the Yellowstone is the larger river. The Missouri meanders east past Williston and into Lake Sakakawea, the reservoir formed by Garrison Dam. Below the dam the Missouri receives the Knife River from the west and flows south to Bismarck, the capital of North Dakota, where the Heart River joins from the west, it slows into the Lake Oahe reservoir just before the Cannonball River confluence. While it continues south reaching Oahe Dam in South Dakota, the Grand and Cheyenne Rivers all join the Missouri from the west; the Missouri makes a bend to the southeast as it winds through the Great Plains, receiving the Niobrara River and many smaller tributaries from the southwest. It proceeds to form the boundary of South Dakota and Nebraska after being joined by the James River from the north, forms the Iowa–Nebraska boundary. At Sioux City the Big Sioux River comes in from the north; the Missouri flows south to the city of Omaha where it receives its longest tributary, the Platte River, from the west.
Downstream, it begins to define the Nebraska–Missouri border flows between Missouri and Kansas. The Missouri swings east at Kansas City, where the Kansas River enters from the west, so on into north-central Missouri. To the east of Kansas City, the Missouri receives, on the left side, the Grand River, it passes south of Columbia and receives the Osage and Gasconade Rivers from the south downstream of Jefferson City. The river rounds the northern side of St. Louis to join the Mississippi River on the border between Missouri and Illinois. With a drainage basin spanning 529,350 square miles, the Missouri River's catchment encompasses nearly one-sixth of the area of the United States or just over five percent of the continent of North America. Comparable to the size of the Canadian province of Quebec, the watershed encompasses most of the central Great Plains, stretching from the Rocky Mountains in the
The American bison or bison commonly known as the American buffalo or buffalo, is a North American species of bison that once roamed North America in vast herds. Their historical range, by 9000 BCE, is described as the great bison belt, a tract of rich grassland that ran from Alaska to the Gulf of Mexico, east to the Atlantic Seaboard as far north as New York and south to Georgia and per some sources down to Florida, with sightings in North Carolina near Buffalo Ford on the Catawba River as late as 1750, they became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the 19th century and introduction of bovine diseases from domestic cattle. With a population in excess of 60 million in the late 18th century, the species was down to 541 animals by 1889. Recovery efforts expanded in the mid-20th century, with a resurgence to 31,000 animals today restricted to a few national parks and reserves. Two subspecies or ecotypes have been described: the plains bison, smaller in size and with a more rounded hump, the wood bison —the larger of the two and having a taller, square hump.
Furthermore, the plains bison has been suggested to consist of a northern plains and a southern plains subspecies, bringing the total to three. However, this is not supported; the wood bison is one of the largest wild species of bovid in the world, surpassed by only the Asian gaur and wild water buffalo. It is the heaviest, second tallest extant land animal after moose in the Americas; the American bison is the national mammal of the United States. The term buffalo is sometimes considered to be a misnomer for this animal, could be confused with "true" buffalos, the Asian water buffalo and the African buffalo. However, bison is a Greek word meaning ox-like animal, while buffalo originated with the French fur trappers who called these massive beasts bœufs, meaning ox or bullock—so both names and buffalo, have a similar meaning; the name buffalo is listed in many dictionaries as an acceptable name for American bison. Samuel de Champlain applied the term buffalo to the bison in 1616, after seeing skins and a drawing shown to him by members of the Nipissing First Nation, who said they travelled forty days to trade with another nation who hunted the animals.
In English usage, the term buffalo dates to 1625 in North America, when the term was first recorded for the American mammal. It thus has a much longer history than the term bison, first recorded in 1774; the American bison is closely related to the European bison. In Plains Indian languages in general and female buffaloes are distinguished, with each having a different designation rather than there being a single generic word covering both sexes. Thus: in Arapaho: bii, henéécee in Lakota: pté, tȟatȟáŋka Such a distinction is not a general feature of the language, so is due to the special significance of the buffalo in Plains Indian life and culture. A bison has a shaggy, dark-brown winter coat, a lighter-weight, lighter-brown summer coat; as is typical in ungulates, the male bison is larger than the female and, in some cases, can be heavier. Plains bison are in the smaller range of sizes, wood bison in the larger range. Head-rump lengths range from 2 to 2.8 m long and the tail adding 30 to 43 cm or up to 65 cm.
Heights at withers in the species can range from 152 to 186 cm for B. b. bison while B. b. athabascae reaches over 2 m. Weights can range from 318 to 1,000 kg Typical weight ranges in the species were reported as 460 to 988 kg in males and 360 to 544 kg in females, the lowest weights representing typical weight around the age of sexual maturity at 2 to 3 years of age. Mature bulls tend to be larger than cows. Cow weights have had reported medians of 450 to 495 kg, with one small sample averaging 479 kg, whereas bulls may weigh a median of 730 kg with an average from a small sample of 765 kg; the heaviest wild bull recorded weighed 1,270 kg. When raised in captivity and farmed for meat, the bison can grow unnaturally heavy and the largest semidomestic bison weighed 1,724 kg; the heads and forequarters are massive, both sexes have short, curved horns that can grow up to 2 ft long, which they use in fighting for status within the herd and for defense. Bison are grazing on the grasses and sedges of the North American prairies.
Their daily schedule involves two-hour periods of grazing and cud chewing moving to a new location to graze again. Sexually mature young bulls may try to start mating with cows by the age of two or three years, but if more mature bulls are present, they may not be able to compete until they reach five years of age. For the first two months of life, calves are lighter in color than mature bison. One rare condition is the white buffalo, in which the calf turns white. Although they are superficially similar, the American and European bison exhibit a number of physical and behavioral differences. Adult American bison are heavier on average because of their less rangy build, have shorter legs, which render them shorter at the shoulder. American bison tend to graze more, browse less
The beaver is a large nocturnal, semiaquatic rodent. Castor includes the North American beaver and Eurasian beaver. Beavers are known for building dams and lodges, they are the second-largest rodent in the world. Their colonies create one or more dams to provide still, deep water to protect against predators, to float food and building material; the North American beaver population as of 1988 was 6 -- 12 million. This population decline is the result of extensive hunting for fur, for glands used as medicine and perfume, because the beavers' harvesting of trees and flooding of waterways may interfere with other land uses. Beavers, along with pocket gophers and kangaroo rats, are castorimorph rodents, a suborder of rodents restricted to North America. Although just two related species exist today, beavers have a long fossil history in the Northern Hemisphere beginning in the Eocene, many species of giant beaver existed until quite such as Trogontherium in Europe, Castoroides in North America. Beavers are known for their natural trait of building dams on rivers and streams, building their homes in the resulting pond.
Beavers build canals to float building materials that are difficult to haul over land. They use powerful front teeth to cut trees and other plants that they use both for building and for food. In the absence of existing ponds, beavers must construct dams before building their lodges. First they place vertical poles fill between the poles with a crisscross of horizontally placed branches, they fill in the gaps between the branches with a combination of weeds and mud until the dam impounds sufficient water to surround the lodge. They are known for their alarm signal: when startled or frightened, a swimming beaver will dive while forcefully slapping the water with its broad tail, audible over great distances above and below water; this serves as a warning to beavers in the area. Once a beaver has sounded the alarm, nearby beavers may not reemerge for some time. Beavers are slow on land, but are good swimmers, can stay under water for as long as 15 minutes. Beavers do not hibernate; some of the pile is above water and accumulates snow in the winter.
This insulation of snow keeps the water from freezing in and around the food pile, providing a location where beavers can breathe when outside their lodge. Beavers have webbed hind-feet, a broad, scaly tail, they have poor eyesight, but keen senses of hearing and touch. A beaver's teeth grow continuously, their four incisors are composed of hard orange enamel on a softer dentin on the back. The chisel-like ends of incisors are maintained by their self-sharpening wear pattern; the enamel in a beaver's incisors contains iron and is more resistant to acid than enamel in the teeth of other mammals. Beavers continue to grow throughout their lives. Adult specimens weighing over 25 kg are not uncommon. Females are as large as or larger than males of the same age, uncommon among mammals. Beavers live up to 24 years of age in the wild; the English word "beaver" comes from the Old English word beofor or befer, which in turn sprang from the Proto-Germanic root *bebruz. Cognates in other Germanic languages include the Old Saxon bibar, the Old Norse bjorr, the Middle Dutch and Dutch bever, the Low German bever, the Old High German bibar and the Modern German Biber.
The Proto-Germanic word in turn came from the Proto-Indo-European word *bhebhrus, a reduplication of the PIE root *bher-, meaning "brown" or "bright", whose own descendants now include the Lithuanian bebras and the Czech bobr, as well as the Germanic forms. The North American and Eurasian beavers are the only extant members of the family Castoridae, contained in a single genus, Castor. Genetic research has shown the modern European and North American beaver populations to be distinct species and that hybridization is unlikely. Although superficially similar to each other, there are several important differences between the two species. Eurasian beavers tend to be larger, with larger, less rounded heads, narrower muzzles, thinner and lighter underfur, less oval-shaped tails and shorter shin bones, making them less capable of bipedal locomotion than the North American species. Eurasian beavers have longer nasal bones than their North American cousins, with the widest point being at the end of the snout for the former, in the middle for the latter.
The nasal opening for the Eurasian species is triangular, unlike that of the North American race, square. The foramen magnum is rounded in the Eurasian triangular in the North American; the anal glands of the Eurasian beaver are larger and thin-walled with a large internal volume compared to that of the North American species. The guard hairs of the Eurasian beaver have a longer hollow medulla at their tips. Fur colour is different. Overall, 66% of Eurasian beavers have pale brown or beige fur, 20% have reddish brown, nearly 8% are brown and only 4% have blackish coats. In North American beavers, 50% have pale brown fur, 25% are reddish brown, 20% are brown and 6% are blackish; the two species are not genetically compatible. North American beavers have 40 chromosomes, while Eurasian beavers have 48. More than 27 attempts were made in Russia to hybridize the two species, with one breeding between a male North American beaver and a female European resulting in a single stillborn kit. Thes
The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations in North America. In Canada, over 350,000 people are Cree or have Cree ancestry.. The major proportion of Cree in Canada live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. About 27,000 live in Quebec. In the United States, Cree people lived from Lake Superior westward. Today, they live in Montana, where they share the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation with Ojibwe people; the documented westward migration over time has been associated with their roles as traders and hunters in the North American fur trade. The Cree were first contacted by Europeans in 1682, at the mouth of the Nelson and Hayes rivers in what is now northern Manitoba, by a Hudson's Bay Company party traveling about 100 miles inland. In the south, contact was later. In 1732 in what is now northwestern Ontario, Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye, met with an assembled group of 200 Cree warriors near present-day Fort Frances, as well as with the Monsoni.
Both groups had donned war paint in preparation to an attack on the Dakota and another group of Ojibwe. After acquiring firearms from the HBC, the Cree moved as traders into the plains, acting as middlemen with the HBC; the Cree are divided into eight groups based on dialect and region. These divisions do not represent ethnic sub-divisions within the larger ethnic group: Naskapi and Montagnais are inhabitants of an area they refer to as Nitassinan, their territories comprise most of the present-day political jurisdictions of eastern Quebec and Labrador. Their cultures are differentiated, as some of the Naskapi are still caribou hunters and more nomadic than many of the Montagnais; the Montagnais have more settlements. The total population of the two groups in 2003 was about 18,000 people, of which 15,000 lived in Quebec, their dialects and languages are the most distinct from the Cree spoken by the groups west of Lake Superior. Atikamekw are inhabitants of the area they refer to as Nitaskinan, in the upper St. Maurice River valley of Quebec.
Their population is around 4,500. East Cree – Grand Council of the Crees. Moose Cree – Moose Factory in the Cochrane District, Ontario. Swampy Cree – this group lives in northern Manitoba along the Hudson Bay coast and adjacent inland areas to the south and west, in Ontario along the coast of Hudson Bay and James Bay; some live in eastern Saskatchewan around Cumberland House. It has 4,500 speakers. Woods Cree – a group in northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Plains Cree – a total of 34,000 people in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Montana. Due to the many dialects of the Cree language, the people have no modern collective autonym; the Plains Cree and Attikamekw refer to themselves using modern forms of the historical nêhiraw, namely nêhiyaw and nêhirawisiw, respectively. Moose Cree, East Cree and Montagnais all refer to themselves using modern dialectal forms of the historical iriniw, meaning'man.' Moose Cree use the form ililiw, coastal East Cree and Naskapi use iyiyiw, inland East Cree use iyiniw, Montagnais use ilnu and innu, depending on dialect.
The Cree use "Cree," "cri," "Naskapi, or "montagnais" to refer to their people only when speaking French or English. As hunter-gatherers, the basic unit of organization for Cree peoples was the lodge, a group of eight or a dozen people the families of two separate but related married couples, who lived together in the same wigwam or tipi, the band, a group of lodges who moved and hunted together. In the case of disagreement lodges could leave bands, bands could be formed and dissolved with relative ease, but as there is safety in numbers, all families would want to be part of some band, banishment was considered a serious punishment. Bands would have strong ties to their neighbours through intermarriage and would assemble together at different parts of the year to hunt and socialize together. Besides these regional gatherings, there was no higher-level formal structure, decisions of war and peace were made by consensus with allied bands meeting together in council. People could be identified by their clan, a group of people claiming descent from the same common ancestor.
Each band remained independent of each other. However, Cree-speaking bands tended to work together and with their neighbours against outside enemies; those Cree who moved onto the Great Plains and adopted bison hunting, called the Plains Cree, were allied with the Assiniboine and the Saulteaux in what was known as the "Iron Confederacy", a major force in the North American fur trade from the 1730s to the 1870s. The Cree and the Assiniboine were important intermediaries in the Indian trading networks on the northern plains; when a band went to war, they would nominate a temporary military commander, called a okimahkan. Loosely translated as "war chief"; this office was different from that of the "peace chief", a leader who had a role more like that of diplomat. In the run-up to the 1885 North-West Rebellion, Big Bear was the leader of his band, but once the fighting start