The Buffalo Commons as Regional Metaphor and Geographic Method

"Regional metaphor offers an effective means to pursue a traditionally central task of geography--understanding and creating alternative futures for regions. It can give geographers feasible approaches to constructing a sense of a region’s future, engaging the public in the task, and influencing public policy. Regional metaphor provides a way to make thinking about regions and the probable changes in them accessible to wide, often opposed portions of the public whom geographers may not otherwise reach. Many contemporary geographical techniques--for instance, GIS, deconstruction, or statistical inference--frequently distance the discipline from important lay regional audiences. Thus we urge geographers to make more use of regional metaphor. The terms of the metaphor must connect with the region, but at the same time it has to be open-ended, multifaceted, ambiguous. To show how regional metaphor can work, our argument first draws on our participant-observer experience in devising the Buffalo Commons metaphor for the Great Plains. We then suggest the implications of the metaphor for other U.S. regions and for the practice of geography."
land tenure and use, wildlife, human-environment interaction, geography