ABOUT THIS BOOK
Building on a Borrowed Past: Place and Identity in Pipestone, Minnesota traces the result when one culture absorbs the heritage of another for civic advantage. Founded in 1874, Pipestone was named for the quarries where regional tribes excavated soft stone for making pipes. George Catlin and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described the place and its tribal history. Promotion by white residents of the quarries as central to America's Indian heritage helped Pipestone obtain a federal Indian boarding school in the 1890s and a national monument in the 1930s. The annual "Song of Hiawatha" pageant attracted tourists after World War II. Sally J. Southwick's prize-winning study demonstrates how average, small-town citizens contributed to the generic image of "the Indian" in American culture.Examining oral histories, memoirs, newspapers, federal documents, civic group records, and promotional literature, Southwick focuses on middle-class individuals as active in establishing historical, place-based identity. Building on a Borrowed Past reveals how identities form through adapting the meanings of cultural, spiritual, racial, and historical symbols. The ways in which town residents produced and maintained the place's image illustrate white Americans' continued assumption of Indian heritage as a usable past.Sally J. Southwick is a native of southwestern Minnesota and lives in St. Paul. An independent scholar, she has written on Native American and western history.