Too Much Time to Think on a Road Trip

Jenn and I have realized over the past week or so, that when driving for several hours a day, we have lots of time to think about things that we clearly have never considered. We’ve come up with some pretty silly questions that we just don’t have answers to. Normally, if it bothered us enough, we’d just look up the answer. That really hasn’t been an option for us though since we’re driving through the wilderness. So instead, we just ask everyone we come across. So here’s our list of dumb questions.

What’s the tallest mountain in the continental United States (not including Alaska)?
After asking several people, we came to the conclusion that it must be Mount Whitney (in California).

Are horses native to North America or were they introduced by the Europeans?
We kind of went both ways on this one. We both established that there were definitely horses in Europe going back at least to the Middle Ages. This means that they were probably introduced to North America (it doesn’t make any real sense that the exact same species would be in both places, because if they were they would have had to have been that way for a long long time and probably would have evolved at least somewhat differently). The only holdout though was that we were both pretty certain that the plains Indians had herds of horses. After asking several knowledgeable people about this we decided that the early European explorers introduced horses to North America. It was only later when the settlers pushed the Indians back to the plains that they had herds of horses.

If the entire Flathead area is a reservation, how come so many white people own land on it?
The Flathead Indian Reservation is a very large reservation in northwestern Montana. As we were driving through it to get to my family’s cabin (on reservation land), we realized that there just aren’t very many Indians there. In fact, I’m pretty sure there are more white people that live there than Indians. Back in the 1930’s, the tribes gave parcels of land to individual tribe members. Some of these people sold their land to white people (including 5 acres of lake front property to my great Grandfather for about $300). So that’s why white people own land on the Reservation. Sounds like a very unfortunate circumstance for the tribes. I think this is one of the few reservations in the country that is actually on really nice and valuable land.

Elk kind of look like horses. How come they were never domesticated and ridden like horses?
Alright, I know, this is kind of a silly question, but we were curious (and probably hopped up on espresso). No real definitive answer on this one. I guess we decided that their legs weren’t as strong as horse’s legs and that they were probably harder to catch. They do live in the mountains and all. Also, they have horns (or antlers…pokey thingys). I imagine they’d use them if you tried to jump on their backs.

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1. Nicole

I like the elk one.

But I feel like Native Americans had horses before the white dudes got here. Got me questioning.