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Mythic Frontiers by Daniel Maher Analysis

In Mythic Frontiers, Daniel Maher defines how exaggerated the past is more so those of the American frontier. He illustrates how frontiers have been used in return for profits. According to him, the mythical historical sites have been used to dampen violence, oppression, colonial forces of manifesting destiny, and high principles of architecture to mythical heights.

He defines the frontier complex in Fort Smith where tourists are welcomed in a brothel and the reconstructed courtroom of Isaac Parker. Maher warns that the creation of a popular tourist narrative and unbinding cultural heritage tourism from history reduces the devastating consequences of racial segregation, sexism, imperialism, and favoring whites (Pierce, 2016, p 283). Maher argues that mythologized narratives of the American frontier as defined by several cultural heritages ignore the percussions of colonization in progress. This is because popular representations of West Americans are more embedded in using tourists to gain profits rather than depicting more nuanced historical records.

However, Isaac Parker is historically sensible. His mythical Imagination has been allured beyond historical facts. He proposes the utilization of nooses and gallows in publicizing Fort Smith, which has been neglected for a long time. According to him, the Fort has deceptively grown hardened to the grisly violence and the detail that such proposals to frontier justice are more reminiscent of murder and majority rule than law administered through fairness. His mythologized reputation creates a basis for the bulk of this imagery. Judge Parker was quite rational during his period; he believed in advancing assimilation, a principle of ethnocide, but not a pleasant approach in relation to other beliefs. According to him, assimilation would curb racism, sexism, and colonization as opposed to Dan Maher. Parker aimed to lead people to justice through the federal court by hanging those involved in racial segregation.

In Mythic Frontiers, Daniel Maher introduces the text with the emergence of the frontier complex. He identifies five frontier decades from 1804 until now. He gets involved in major scholarships on cultural tourism. Maher implements useful frameworks in his focus on the frontier complex in Fort Smith (Wrobel, 2017). However, he omits the works of great historians such as Richard White, Patricia Nelson, and Richard Slotkin who also researched the importance of the frontier in the American culture. Maher focuses on discussing the cultural heritage in Fort Smith that defines the mythic tales and narratives of the nineteenth century. He oversees the development of the frontier complex as he criticizes the frontier myth in the contest of manifesting destiny. This is crucial in our knowledge of how cultural sites reinforce privilege. Maher’s history and theoretical framework for deconstructing the frontier complex are transferable and applicable to heritage tourism throughout the country. His book connects the broad patterns of neoliberalism and deindustrialization in explaining the impending death of heritage tourism and culture.

Unlike Maher, Parker criticizes the Wild West tales that emerged in Fort Smith. He gives an insight into the detachment between historical records and narratives and how the narratives adapt historically to hide historical sexism and racial discrimination. According to Parker, law and order and getting tough on crimes were used in the civil rights plans to conceal cases of racism such as the narratives that whitewashed the local history of Fort Smith. Isaac rebukes local myths and narratives in Fort Smith cultural tourism. He traces all forms of injustices and controversies with the aim of bringing the subjects to face the law.


Pierce, J. (2016). Mythic Frontiers: Remembering, Forgetting, and Profiting from Cultural Heritage Tourism. The Arkansas Historical Quarterly75(3), 273.

Wrobel, D. (2017). Mythic Frontiers: Remembering, Forgetting, and Profiting with Cultural Heritage Tourism. Cultural Heritage Series. By Daniel R. Maher. Foreword by Paul A. Schackel.



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