Surprise Valley and Lookout Point: Zane Grey and the Configuration of Southwestern Landscapes

Dziedzic, Sarah E.

Explorers on the North American continent have often sought to define their experiences by their interaction with the landscape. It is this interaction, D.H. Lawrence wrote in his exploration of the American “spirit of place,” that allowed European-Americans to begin to formulate a new identity that broke from a world they suddenly defined as "Old." At times, however, access to the landscape was complicated by the indigenous peoples who had lived on the continent for tens of thousands of years. While explorers of the eastern regions had acknowledged the presence of indigenous people within the continent, explorers of lands further west instead developed a narrative that increasingly described the places they encountered as empty. Lawrence observed that "no place exerts its full potential upon a newcomer until the old inhabitant is dead or absorbed"; in keeping with that belief, new Americans began a complex process of removing, relocating, and rendering invisible these native peoples in order to facilitate that feeling of discovery, newness, and ultimately, a complicated sense of place.


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Academic Units
Columbia Center for Oral History
Published Here
January 31, 2013