Shrouded in the lore of legendary Indians, Mt. Timpanogos beckons the urban populace of Utah. And yet, no Ã¢ÂÂIndianÃ¢ÂÂ legend graced the mount until Mormon settlers conjured itÃ¢ÂÂonce they had displaced the local Indians, the Utes, from their actual landmark, Utah Lake. On ZionÃ¢ÂÂs Mount tells the story of this curious shift. It is a quintessentially American story about the fraught process of making oneself Ã¢ÂÂnativeÃ¢ÂÂ in a strange land. But it is also a complex tale of how cultures confer meaning on the environmentÃ¢ÂÂhow they create homelands.
Only in Utah did Euro-American settlers conceive of having a homeland in the Native American senseÃ¢ÂÂan endemic spiritual geography. They called it Ã¢ÂÂZion.Ã¢ÂÂ Mormonism, a religion indigenous to the United States, originally embraced Indians as Ã¢ÂÂLamanites,Ã¢ÂÂ or spiritual kin. On ZionÃ¢ÂÂs Mount shows how, paradoxically, the Mormons created their homeland at the expense of the local IndiansÃ¢ÂÂand how they expressed their sense of belonging by investing Timpanogos with Ã¢ÂÂIndianÃ¢ÂÂ meaning.
This same pattern was repeated across the United States. Jared Farmer reveals how settlers and their descendants (the new natives) bestowed Ã¢ÂÂIndianÃ¢ÂÂ place names and recited pseudo-Indian legends about those placesÃ¢ÂÂcultural acts that still affect the way we think about American Indians and American landscapes.
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