contradictory, and disparate memories and experiences are filtered, ordered, anddisciplined to create coherent, meaningful narratives. And some narratives dominate andflourish, while others are stifled, driven out of the public realm and into extinction, or atleast in to their proponents’ homes.The broad contours of the narratives that tend to dominate have been sketched bya number of authors. They tend to be nationalistic and patriotic, emphasizing citizenduties over citizen rights. They emphasize social unity, the continuity of the social order,and gloss over periods of transformation and rupture. The dominant histories are dramas presenting a primordial national unity that denies social and political contradictions in the present by denying them in the past. This is our heritage, our history, and our past.But what of the histories that are silenced? If they don’t disappear altogether they become the property of cranks and special interest groups, at best interesting sidelights tothe central “real” story, no longer quite history, but memory or tradition. But thesealternative visions, while exiled to the margins of mainstream memory, can still maintaina living presence, private and local, but nonetheless vital. And as political-economicconditions and alliances shift, these submerged histories may reemerge or provide theseeds for changes in the dominant histories.The Ludlow project is an attempt to craft an alternative history, using archaeologyto bring labor history into the historical public sphere. Labor struggle is prominentamong those events and sites that are erased from dominant histories. As of yet few, if any, of the seminal events of labor history and labor struggle have received officialcommemoration. When labor history sites are memorialized, it is generally by labor andlabor unions.Given the sorts of interests that tend to drive public history, the silencing of labor struggle is unsurprising. In the dominant mythology, the US is a classless society. Weare all middle class. Events that bear a resemblance to class warfare, or that even point tothe presence of class, are not easily incorporated within this mythology. A second factor is that labor struggle lacks a resolution or, to put it another way, historical distance (Foote1997:300). Labor struggle obviously cannot be effectively quarantined in the past and“antiquarianized.” Labor struggles continue today; the problems that gave rise to themhave not been resolved, and unions remain an uneasy and ambiguous presence on thefringes of middle-class consciousness.
Southern Colorado Histories
The silencing of labor struggle can also have more obviously economicunderpinnings. In southern Colorado, where Ludlow took place, the remembered pastneeds to be considered in the context of de-industrialization, the decline of coal-mining,and local attempts to recreate the economic base of the area through heritage tourism.The dominant history of the area is that of the Old West. Trinidad, the largest town near Ludlow, is on the Santa Fe Trail. Its history is replete with cowboys, pioneers, Indianattacks, and figures such as Kit Carson, Black Jack Ketchum, and Bat Masterson. Theattraction of this history is powerful. It provides a link not only to national histories of westward expansion and growth, but to a mythology that, through Hollywood, has a trulyglobal appeal. The histories of coal mining, company towns, and labor struggle pale incomparison (McGuire and Reckner 1998; Papanikolas 1995:73-90).As coal mining, and coal miners, recede into history, it becomes likely that there