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Mythic FrontiersRemembering, Forgetting, and Profiting with Cultural Heritage Tourism$
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Daniel R. Maher

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062532

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062532.001.0001

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The Significance of the Frontier Complex in American History

The Significance of the Frontier Complex in American History

Chapter:
(p.1) 1 The Significance of the Frontier Complex in American History
Source:
Mythic Frontiers
Author(s):

Daniel R. Maher

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813062532.003.0001

Building on Robert Frazer’s framework for understanding forts of the West, this chapter organizes the frontier complex into five eras. The era of Indian removal (1804–1848) to Indian Territory cleared the path for white settlement in the East while driving a westward movement of white settlers. The restraint era (1848–1887) witnessed the cattle trails, cowboys, wagon trains, pioneers, Indian wars, and transcontinental railroad, out of which the mythic frontier was created. The reservation era (1887–1934) extends from the Dawes Severalty Act to the Indian Reorganization Act and represents the pacification of Indians and the firm establishment of whiteness in the West. With the advent of affordable cars and paved roads, the recreation era (1920–1980) saw a burst of frontier tourism reinforced by Wild West Hollywood imagery. Attendance at museums and historic sites has been in decline in the redoubling era (1980-present). Neoliberalism led to globalization and deindustrialization along with the destabilization of middle-class family incomes that has resulted in less discretionary income for family vacations. Combined with the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and new social media, traditional historic sites and museums are now faced with stiff competition for tourists who were once guaranteed in the recreation era of the frontier complex.

Keywords:   historic sites, Robert Frazer, Dawes Severalty Act, Indian Reorganization Act, Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, Indian removal, Indian Territory, whiteness, neoliberalism, museums

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