Beginning after the American Revolution, bourgeouis white northern Americans began to tell Indian origin stories about their mineral springs and spa towns. Appearing in guidebooks, periodicals, fiction, poetry, travel narratives, and scientific discourse, these origin stories had some identifiable roots in Native American practices but were largely an invention of elite white culture. They served as a neat intellectual resolution to some of the central problems of national legitimacy and national identity formation that faced the most privileged Americans. They imagined alternative non-British origin stories for shared Anglo-American cultural practices, which enabled elite white northerners to construct an alternative elite American national identity. They also established the legitimacy of white claims to an American landscape that was still in the process of being expropriated from Indians, and served to explain and deny the continued presence of Indians in white leisure spaces. The cultural script of Indian origins for Anglo-American summer leisure practices at mineral springs resolved a complex and interconnected set of cultural ambivalences through the simple, emblematic figure of an Indian at a spring.


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pp. 421-450
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