Whenever I would come upon the word “frontier” before, I would imagine scenes from period Hollywood westerns and movies about old American settlements. This was the time before the concept of industrialization and urbanization have crept themselves into vocabulary of the people and country. I think of that period in history when the Indians, the native inhabitants of America, were being driven out from the plains into the mountains by European settlers who have traveled far to build new homes and new lives in a new continent.
Geographically, the frontier to me is a wide expanse of farm and cattle lands in rural states like Ohio, Arkansas, Illinois or Texas. If I were to use the word to apply to something in the present, it would be to these rural areas and the activities that they engage in today like cattle ranching, farming and even square dancing. After studying and reading the materials on the Frontier thesis, my idea of the term has certainly widened.
It has become not just a geographical area or pictures in my mind about old America, but a philosophy. It is a change in the way of life by which the European settlers had to undergo in order to adapt to strange situations they encountered and had to contend with upon their arrival in the country like acres of uncultivated land and untamed wildlife, a different climate, and a totally new environment.
It is the brand of consciousness that began what is known as the American way of living and thinking, stemming from but eventually distinct from their original European origins. It is also the term to call the same longing that modern Americans have of living the simple life, going back to a less complicated past, and an America that is not troubled by global concerns. In short, studying about frontiers has opened up for me rich connotations of the term.