During the cattle boom of the late nineteenth century, homesteaders at either end of the Great Plains raised livestock in conjunction with the cultivation of crops. In order to support their small herds of cattle, these individuals relied on unfettered access to grass and especially water, a resource in short supply on the semi-arid prairies of Texas and Alberta. Larger ranchers and cattle syndicates resented the challenge posed by the settlers and feared the competition for water and grass. Supported by officials in Austin and Ottawa--who favored rapid industrial development on the Plains--cattlemen seized control of the range by fencing pastures and water holes and evicting squatters. When homesteaders resisted this exclusion, government authorities dispatched their rural constabularies--the Texas Rangers and the North-West Mounted Police--to protect a closed but embattled range.

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