Material falsehoods: Living a lie at this old fort

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines the US national historic sites (NHSs) that preserve forts between the Mississippi River and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. Despite the many differences across these sites and their histories, all of them center their stories on the daily life of soldiers, portrayed by reenactors using authentic and replica furnishings in restored barracks, stables, smithies, and other buildings. For example, Fort Laramie is transformed from an agent of expansion into a museum of Victorian furnishings. These (re)presentations reflect the concerns of a Fort Coalition, local enthusiasts, and a community of reenactors with a particular view of authenticity. Their constructions squeeze out the real stories about why these forts were there, and fail to confront the fundamental question of what caused US expansion onto the Great Plains. While interesting in what they tell us about popular concerns, heritage enthusiasts at these forts often stand in the way of good historical narrative.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEncounters with Popular Pasts
Subtitle of host publicationCultural Heritage and Popular Culture
EditorsMike Robinson, Helaine Silverman
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9783319131832
ISBN (Print)9783319131825
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Forgetting
  • Imperialism
  • National parks
  • Remembrance
  • Western history

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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