From: University of Utah
Published November 3, 2017 11:26 AM

Agricultural Productivity Drove Euro-American Settlement of Utah

On July 22, 1847, a scouting party from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stood above the Great Salt Lake Valley in modern-day Utah; by 1870, more than 18,000 followers had colonized the valley and surrounding region, displacing Native American populations to establish dispersed farming communities. While historians continue to debate the drivers of this colonization event, a new study from the University of Utah proposes that agricultural productivity drove dispersal patterns in a process that led the current distribution of Utah populations today.

Utah anthropologists adapted a well-known ecological model, and tested its predictions by combining satellite-derived measures of agricultural suitability with historical census data. They found that the model accurately predicted the patterns in which settlement occurred in Utah, as well as the present-day distribution of people.

“People are going to go where they can do the best for themselves and their families. For these early settlers, they’re going to settle where the agriculture is best,” said Peter Yaworsky, lead author and doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Utah.

The study published on Nov. 3, 2017 in the journal American Antiquity.

Read more at University of Utah

Image: Men at work threshing wheat with a steam engine and separator in Hinckley, Millard Country in Utah in the late 1800s or early 1900s. The owner of the outfit, William Brown Alldredge, a Utah Pioneer of 1867, is the man second from the engine on the right.    (Credit: Courtesy Utah Division of State History)

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