THE AMERICAN BACKGROUND: THE NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE INDIAN'S ECONOMY
The Natural Resources. The economic order, we have seen, is engaged in a process of using the forces and resources found in our natural environment for the purpose of supplying our wants; it is a process of cooperation between man and his environment. It is obvious therefore that the character and success of a given economic order will be greatly influenced by the natural environment in which it is located; for that reason some account of the outstanding characteristics of the conditions existing in the United States is essential to our study. Since we may assume that most Americans are fairly familiar with this natural environment, it will suffice simply to point out its most significant features and characteristics.
From the economic point of view the combined effects of the physiography of the country, its temperature, and rainfall may be said to separate the United States into two great divisions nearly equal in area, those east and west of a line roughly marked by the 100th meridian. The eastern section consists of comparatively level and low lying plains broken by the Appalachian chain of mountains. The temperature of this section is moderate and the rainfall abundant and fairly evenly distributed throughout the year. The western region, on the other hand, is marked by a high altitude, except for the valleys on the Pacific coast, and is much more uneven, being traversed by two great mountain chains often reaching great heights. The temperature except along the coast is subject to somewhat greater extremes of heat and cold and, particularly important in its effects, the rainfall, except along parts of the coast, is insufficient for ordinary cultivation, besides having a very uneven seasonal distribution. The results of the combined effects of these conditions create a marked difference in the economic development and life of these two sections, as will appear later. Though these constitute the great divisions of the country, each of them is so large and marked with such variations within its own boundaries as to justify a more detailed description.
In the eastern great division we find, first, a coastal plain bordering on the Atlantic and extending to the series of mountain ranges which make up the Appalachian chain and stretch from northern New England to Georgia and Alabama. This coastal plain varies in width from 50 to 100