Homework Help

Much of America’s founding mythology is based on the idea of the land as an untouched...

user profile pic

pinklovr | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 21, 2013 at 4:57 PM via web

dislike 0 like
  1. Much of America’s founding mythology is based on the idea of the land as an untouched wilderness, yet most scholars now agree that this pristine myth [p. 365] was a convenient story that the early settlers told themselves. What kinds of actions did the myth support, and how did it serve the purposes of the settlers?

1 Answer | Add Yours

user profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 22, 2013 at 12:17 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

Essentially, the "pristine myth" helped to advance the colonization and control of the new world. In advocating the "pristine myth," it became easier to justify controlling the new world. The myth rested in "the belief that the Americas in 1491 were an almost unmarked, even Edenic land, 'untrammeled by man." Essentially, it "whitewashes" what was done to the indigenous people of the region. The pristine myth helped to accomplish the settlers' purpose of being able to take what they wished, removing all perceived obstacles in their path, and being able to hold and use the land for their own purposes.

The "pristine myth" is a reflection of the silencing of voice that happened in the colonization and control of the new world.  In order to advance the narrative of control and ownership, there had to be a removal of indigenous voice.  Rather than accept that the voice being silenced was of equal caliber and capacity than the European voice, the "pristine myth" helped to justify why settlers did what they did.  If there was no one on the land, if it was "untrammeled by man," and the land was open, then it makes it easier to overtake it.  The consolidation of power and control is demonstrated in the advocacy of the "pristine myth."

Sources:

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes