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This chapter focuses on a range of interpretations of the New Madrid earthquake series of 1811-12 which reveal divergent assessments of the relationship between humans and the earth's past, present, and future. These included Indigenous interpretations that comprehended the quakes as prophetic anticolonial activations of the land; settler Christian accounts that viewed them as sign of the End Times; the US nationalist response to the disaster as an opportunity to intensify settlement; and scientific explanations that emerged both during and after the event. It then turns to two popular post-quake instances of settler geological fantasy: a Romantic revision of Indigenous prophetic interpretations which used these as an occasion for nationalist catharsis, and renditions, both scientific and popular, of Indigenous people in the mode of the “fossil other”: sources for knowledge-gathering that would project settlers alone into the future.

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