Reassessing history : Native American narratives in Kentucky tourism

Authors: B.-Martin, Valérie
Advisor: Desbiens, Caroline
Abstract: In all societies, power dynamics greatly influence memory. British and American colonialism, and relocation policies, like the Indian Removal Act (1830), had a strong impact on Native American presence in the cultural landscape of the Southeast United States. The production of collective memory through commemoration, tourism and education is a reflection of the power relations within society. It also shows which events in the past still define the present. This master’s thesis seeks to understand how narratives of the past influence today’s narratives about Native Americans in Kentucky, as well as how these narratives are inscribed in the cultural landscape of the state. Kentucky holds a rich pre-colonial history that is still visible on the landscape. Many artifacts can be found on the land and bear witness to the long-standing Native American presence in Kentucky. However, according to Kentucky’s dominant history, the territory was ''empty'' at the time of first contact. The contradiction that exists between this myth and the abundance of archaeological evidence, and the way it is translated into the cultural landscape, has seldom been studied. This myth provides the basis for, among other things, education and tourism, and promotes an inaccurate image of the Native presence in Kentucky, which contributes to keeping Native American identities in the past. The colonial means used to erase Native American presence in the United States went further than the violence of the federal policies of assimilation and relocation. Subtler methods, like commemoration and myths, have allowed the dominant culture to claim the land through memory. What are the factors that have created and helped to maintain the gap between Kentucky’s dominant interpretation of history and archaeological fact? What material representations on the cultural landscape of Kentucky are most evident of the gap? Heritage tourism will be the focus of this analysis.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2018
Open Access Date: 12 January 2019
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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