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dc.contributor.advisorLewis, James E., 1964-
dc.contributor.authorHertz, Jenna
dc.date.accessioned2010-05-12T19:32:25Z
dc.date.available2010-05-12T19:32:25Z
dc.date.issued2010
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10920/15032
dc.description93 p.en_US
dc.description.abstractAfter a summer of deep exploration, the story that I felt compelled to tell was the story of an attempt in the early 1960s to build a hydroelectric dam on the Yukon River at a place called Rampart Canyon. Though few people have heard about the dam today, it was the subject of a fierce battle in the 1960s. Referred to variously as a “monumental boondoggle” and the “Greatest peacetime project in the history of the free world” the dam was shrouded in controversy. A news reporter predicted that the dam would “erupt into a terrific emotional battle that could rip the state apart.” Alaska Congressman Ralph Rivers described Rampart Dam as a “slumbering giant waiting to be awakened.” In an effort to tell the story of Rampart Dam, I asked myself what I though would be simple questions: why was the dam proposed? Why was it never built? What did this mean? In the process of answering these questions, I realized that I was not really telling the tale of the would-be dam on the Yukon River at all. The story that I found- the story that dominates this project- is the story of Americans facing an identity crisis. The crisis began in 1959 when Alaska became America’s 49th state. In a process that I term “Alaskan adoption,” the United States began a confusing ritual of attempting to incorporate its new state into the nation. In its search for bridges, America probed its cultural archives and found another crisis: the closing of the American frontier in 1890. The most lasting legacy of this crisis was historian Frederick Jackson Turner’s thesis about the significance of the frontier to American development. Americans seized on Turner’s story as a way to incorporate the northern land into its most cherished national myth: the settling of the American West. The new state was deemed the “last frontier” and set on a trajectory to echo this paradigm. But Alaska was a very different place than the American West it was charged to mimic. Twentieth century America was a different place as well. In the 1960s the United States was facing what Stewart Udall termed a “quiet crisis” of environmental destruction and a parallel social revolution. Against this backdrop, Rampart Canyon Dam was proposed. Two sides, boosters and environmentalists, arose to argue for and against the dam. Both spoke the language of frontiers, but they did so with radically divergent interpretations. The difference in interpretation was rooted in a dispute over the lessons of frontier history, conflicting value systems, and opposing visions for Alaska’s future. The success of environmental interpretation and rhetoric in the Rampart debate indicated a shift in the way Americans told their favorite story. The stories we tell as a nation are important because they form the basis for national identity and shape our actions. By studying the non-story of Rampart Dam, I hope to reveal new insights pertaining to how Americans construct a common identity through national mythology and how this self-understanding manifests in the choices we make pertaining to our relationship with the natural world.en_US
dc.description.tableofcontents1.Preface -- a. My Alaska -- b. Arguments -- c. Note on Method -- d. Acknowledgements -- 2. Introduction -- a. The Importance of Non-Events -- b. A Brief History of the Yukon River and Rampart Canyon Dam -- 3. Why Rampart Was Not Built -- a. Death with a Shudder -- b. Flunking the Tests -- c. Poor Promotion -- 4. Shifting Values -- a. The Ending of the Era of Megaprojects -- b. Sexism -- c. Militarism -- d. Racism -- e. Culmination: Environmentalism -- 5. Frontier Analysis -- a. The Turner Thesis- Introduction of Lens -- b. Turner’s Frontier- Introduction of Concepts -- c. The State of the Turner Thesis in the 1960s -- d. Alaska as America’s Last Frontier -- e. A Developer’s Interpretation -- f. An Environmentalist Interpretation -- 6. Conclusion -- 7. Author’s Note -- 8. Bibliography
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen_USen_US
dc.relation.ispartofKalamazoo College History Senior Individualized Projects Collection
dc.relation.ispartofseriesSenior Individualized Projects. History.;
dc.rightsU.S. copyright laws protect this material. Commercial use or distribution of this material is not permitted without prior written permission of the copyright holder.
dc.titleRampart Rhetoric: The Role of Frontier Mythology in the Development of Alaska’s Natural Resources and Identityen_US
dc.typeThesisen_US


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  • History Senior Individualized Projects [646]
    This collection includes Senior Individualized Projects (SIP's) completed in the History Department. Abstracts are generally available to the public, but PDF files are available only to current Kalamazoo College students, faculty, and staff.
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    This collection includes Senior Individualized Projects (SIP's) that deal with issues of sustainability. Abstracts are generally available to the public, but PDF files are available only to current Kalamazoo College students, faculty, and staff.

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