Alaskan prospects: Using the mining prospector image in early twentieth-century Alaska
AuthorSeger, Christina Rabe
AdvisorWeiner, Douglas R.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractIn the first two decades of twentieth-century Alaska, various groups portrayed the mining prospector as a central Alaskan figure despite the fact that the actual prospector was neither the image maker nor always part of the desired end. Political and economic interests and policies were promoted aggressively by rhetorical arguments; in Alaska, these arguments used the ideals found in the nineteenth-century prospector image as an ideological cover and a material means for early twentieth-century economic and political goals of industrial growth and regional development. The prospector was one of the most complex of Western characters, a prototype that was a product of American cultural, economic, legal and political ideals and notions about the individual and individualism. The mining industry, federal agencies overseeing Alaskan mining, and Alaskan promoters all used prospector images to entice mineral seekers to Alaska, but they also worked to direct prospectors in material ways to ultimately aid their own industrial-based goals of Alaskan growth and settlement. Actual Alaskan prospectors could not fully live up to their images. They faced many challenges in Alaska, but were able, through hard effort, to achieve a limited self-sufficiency. Prospector images were also at center-stage of ideological and rhetorical debates to determine land use policy of Alaskan coal lands, despite the simple fact that actual mineral seekers had little to do with coal mining development. Prospector images also carried political meanings in the struggle for Alaskan home rule. Using this fluid iconic figure did have material consequences, although in the end the political economy had greater influence in Alaskan development.
Degree ProgramGraduate College