Frontiers in History
Ideas from the National Archives for NHD 2001

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Reservations and Frontiers

Often the traditional "American Frontier" is associated with European settlers pushing Indian people out of their way. What would the records of Federal Indian agents administering reservations in the Dakotas and Minnesota tell us about what they thought of the term "frontier" in the early twentieth century, at the height of the "Reservation Period" of American Indian Policy? Did they view "their" reservations as part of the frontier, as the residue of the frontier, or as an element in advancing the frontier of civilization? And what might the Indians who lived on those reservations have thought about the idea of a frontier? These ideas can be explored in Record Group 75, Records of the Bureau of Indian Affairs at NARA's Central Plains Region.

Whose Frontier is it Anyway?

One person's frontier may be another's backyard. Who decides what is "new," "traditional," or worthy of preservation and celebration? The study of the establishment of national parks, monuments, and memorials provides a fascinating insight into the process-and politics-of collective memory. Park, monument, and memorial records found in the holdings of the National Archives-Central Plains Region include Badlands National Monument, Big Hole Battlefield National Monument, Custer Battlefield National Monument, Grand Teton National Park, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Historic Site, Pipestone National Monument, and Yellowstone National Park to name but a few. These records are available at NARA's Central Plains Region in Record Group 79, Records of the National Park Service.

Do We Live on the Frontier?

When reports of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) began to increase in the late 1940s, the newly formed United States Air Force took action. Between 1947 and 1969, the Air Force's "Project Blue Book" recorded and analyzed 12,618 UFO sightings, 701 of which remain unexplained. Are we alone?
These records are available at NARA's Central Plains Region in Record Group 341, Records of Headquarters United States Air Force (Air Staff) and are available in microfilm series T1206.

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