A Heritage Perspective on the Historic U-Lazy-S Ranch – A Case Study in Heritage Construction
Ward, Dallas C
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Heritage is perceived as intangible in that it is the meanings applied to objects and places that provide interpretations and understandings of the past in the present. Heritage is a cultural process in which meanings are interpreted by its constituencies. Heritage is observed through a three-layer approach of people, history, and landscapes. These three layers are analyzed together to gain a holistic view on heritage construction and decipher how the past is conceptualized in the present. The relationships between people, history, and landscapes are explored for their role in the process of heritage construction using the historic U-Lazy-S Ranch as a case study. The historic U-Lazy-S Ranch has been an operational cattle ranch in Garza County for over 100 years and has been owned and operated by one family throughout that time. Understanding the history of this ranch can further inform an understanding of regional ranching heritage, as well as the process of heritage construction. Eight historic archaeological ranching sites, source material from museums and archives, and the results of three oral histories with landowners have been examined in order to understand and construct this heritage. The historic ranching sites are observed in context with their place on the landscape to understand how the heritage process occurs in place. People in the form of heritage constituencies represented by the community, researchers, and landowners with direct kinship relations to historic agents are assessed to provide a clearer view of the heritage process. The historic record is surveyed through source material and regional museums and archives in order to recognize the heritage process better. Constructing U-Lazy-S Ranch heritage has synthesized new information and drawn new connections to provide a broader understanding on how heritage is constructed in the present. The constructed heritage for the U-Lazy-S Ranch demonstrates that process is facilitated by the agency of its constituencies at both active and passive levels. Heritage is expressed in a broader context through this cultural process as an act of interpreting the past in the present for future generations. Heritage becomes an undertaking of meaning-making in the present with the purpose of forming identities and interpreting one’s place in today’s world.