American Land Marks : A History of Place and Displacement
By means of a case study, this dissertation examines the historical relationship between place-making and memory-making in the United States. It is the story of two adjacent landforms (a mountain, a lake) and two successive peoples (natives, settlers). My premise is straightforward: "natural landmarks" double as cultural marks on the land. Mt. Timpanogos--or "limp" as locals call it--is the most loved, most photographed, most talked about, most hiked upon mountain in contemporary Utah. In nineteenth century, however, it did not generally appear on maps; it was just another ridge in "the mountains," which even in the aggregate did not count as the notable feature of Utah Valley. That distinction went to Utah Lake. Until roughly 1900, this water body was a prodigious fishery; for centuries, natives relied on the annual spawn. When Mormon settlers arrived here in 1849, the Indians they encountered called themselves the Timpanogos, a name that also denoted the river that fed the take, and the lake itself. That water-charged world has since evaporated, it is as if Utah Lake and Mt. Timpanogos switched places in the early 1900s. Remarkably, "Timp" was the result of a local booster project. Boosters organized mass hikes on the mountain and started telling fake Indian legends about it. Both traditions caught on. The mountain now functions as a pseudo-historical marker and a repository of Indianness. In collective memory, legendary Indians in the rocky highlands have supplanted historical Indians in the watery lowlands. In short, the sense of place surrounding "Timp" conceals a double displacement--the literal displacement of the Timpanogos Utes and the symbolic displacement of their take. The work is divided into three distinct parts: "Liquid Antecedents," "Making a Mountain-Alpine Play," and "Making a Mountain-Indian Play." Moving from the local to the national, and ranging from the distant past to the near present (1776 to 2002), I show how the place-stories and storied places created by America's colonizers continue to be haunted by Indians.