The metaphor of the Frontier has sustained itself in the national culture and is invoked in popular entertainment, advertising, political rhetoric and in Americans’ sense of being a uniquely exceptional people. This collectivity of thought has been referred to in academic literature as the “American Myth of the Frontier.” However, Turner and his followers (including politicians, academics, and artists) focused only on the positive aspects of the Frontier in forming the American character and setting the United States on the road to becoming a superpower. Looking at America from a different perspective, we can also identify the darker aspects of the Myth of the Frontier. We can see how the descriptions and justifications that first developed for dealing with Native American tribes have become so deeply entwined in the national Myth that they shape American poli cies to this day. Although “the other” has changed his location, his race, and his cultural identity, he may find his role in the American Myth to be not so different from the role played by Native Americans.
Besides being a physical place that shifted and expanded over time, the Frontier is also a mythic space. It represents that which is to be conquered/controlled, including such things as the Space Frontier, the Science Frontier, and the New Age Spiritual Frontier. Each of these has its specialized frontiersmen who venture out as opportunistic adventurers in unchartered territory, to become hardcore experts at understanding the mysterious “wilderness” waiting to be captured, and to return home as heroes of American Civilization. This is the quintessential American entrepreneurial spirit that fuels its enormous creativity as a nation.
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