by Tisa Wenger
One of the best books I read this year was Jared Farmer's On Zion's Mount: Mormons, Indians, and the American Landscape (Harvard University Press, 2008), which turns the story of a Utah mountain into a profound meditation on the historical processes that create culturally significant places. Refusing to isolate Mormon and Great Basin history, Farmer places this story within broad currents of American history. In Farmer's hands the process of making Mt. Timpanogos into a Utah landmark illustrates, among other things, some of the ways in which Americans justified taking possession of Indian land-dispossessing living Indians-by weaving romantic legends of Indian pasts.
There's a new interview with Jared Farmer just posted at Religion Dispatches. It's well worth looking at whether you've read the book or not, and features some especially intriguing reflections on contemporary Mormon sacred spaces.