America’s Lost Landscape: The Tallgrass Prairie tells the rich and complex story of one of the most astonishing alterations of nature in human history. Prior to Euro-American settlement in the 1820s, one of the major landscape features of North America was 240 million acres of tallgrass prairie. But between 1830 and 1900 – in the space of a single lifetime – the tallgrass prairie was steadily transformed to farmland. This drastic change in the landscape also brought about an enormous social change for Native Americans; in an equally short time their cultural imprint was reduced in essence to a handful of place-names appearing on maps. America’s Lost Landscape examines the record of human struggle, triumph, and defeat that prairie history exemplifies, including the history and culture of America’s aboriginal inhabitants. The story of how and why the prairie was changed by Euro-American settlement is thoughtfully nuanced. The film also highlights prairie preservation efforts and explores how the tallgrass prairie ecosystem may serve as a model for a sustainable agriculture of the future. The extraordinary cinematography of prairie remnants, original score and archival images are all delicately interwoven to create a powerful and moving viewing experience about the natural and cultural history of America. Written by David O’Shields
David O’Shields and Daryl Smith are the producers of this film.
David O’Shields is writer, producer and director with New Light Media, Cedar Falls, IA. David has been a working member of the production community since 1985. In addition to his work in public television, he has extensive experience as a cameraman and director in commercial television. David founded New Light Media in 1995 to pursue his dream of making important and engaging documentary films.
Daryl Smith has served as head of UNI Department of Biology, president of the Iowa Academy of Science. A native Iowan, Smith has been involved in prairie preservation, management, and restoration for 35 years.