Myth 9: Wilderness is an icon of the ‘frontier’ and a monument to the colonial past

Myth: Wilderness is an icon of the frontier and a monument to the American (colonialist) past (Gomez-Pampa and Kaus 1992, Cronon 1996)

Truth: This claims that wilderness is a product of machismo. Do only macho, tough men love wilderness or go there? Anybody can enjoy a short or long day walk in wilderness. Also, are large natural areas macho by nature? They are wild and natural, how people respond to them, or whether some of them see them as macho is not the fault of the wilderness. Machismo is more the province of those who wish to exploit wilderness (e.g. hunters, loggers, miners, etc). Rather than being an ‘icon of the American past’ or colonial past, wilderness is what remains from hundreds of years of exploitation that the ‘frontier’ mentality brought.


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