Wyoming's western half is covered mostly by the ranges and rangelands of the Rocky Mountains, while the eastern half of the state is high-elevation prairie called the High Plains. It is drier and windier than the rest of the country, being split between semi-arid and continental climates with greater temperature extremes. Almost half of the land in Wyoming is owned by the federal government, generally protected for public uses. The state ranks sixth by area and fifth by proportion of a state's land owned by the federal government. Federal lands include two national parks (Grand Teton and Yellowstone), two national recreation areas, two national monuments, several national forests, historic sites, fish hatcheries, and wildlife refuges.
Indigenous peoples inhabited the region for thousands of years. Historic and current federally recognized tribes include the Arapaho, Crow, Lakota, and Shoshone. During European exploration, the Spanish Empire was the first to "claim" southern Wyoming. With Mexican independence, it became part of that republic. After defeat in the Mexican–American War, Mexico ceded this territory to the U.S. in 1848. (Full article...)
The human history of the Grand Teton region dates back at least 11,000 years when the first nomadic hunter-gathererPaleo-Indians began migrating into the region during warmer months to pursue food and supplies. In the early 19th century, the first explorers encountered the eastern Shoshone natives. Between 1810 and 1840, the region attracted fur trading companies that vied for control of the lucrative beaver pelt trade. U.S. government expeditions to the region commenced in the mid-19th century as an offshoot of exploration in Yellowstone, with the first permanent white settlers in Jackson Hole arriving in the 1880s. (Full article...)
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