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"Changes In The Land" By Cronon Review

836 words - 3 pages

Changes in The Land Review Jesse Mura-PelkeyProf. David Deacon 9/28/14"Changes in the Land" by William Cronon offers countless intimate observations and gatherings regarding the ecology of New England and the encounters between the colonists and the native americans. Cronon interprets and analyzes the different happenings in New England's plant and animal environments that occurred with the shift from Indian to European dominance. As the distant world and inhabitants of Europe were introduced to North America's ecosystem, the boundaries between the two were blurred. Cronon uses an arsenal of evidence to discuss the circumstances that brought upon drastic ecological consequences following European contact with New England. Cronon made use of reports and records in addition to scientific data as evidence for his arguments. Court records, town hall records, descriptions by travelers, surveyor records, etc. proved invaluable to Cronon's arguments. Europeans saw the land from an economic standpoint and tended to focus upon "merchantable commodities", ignoring economically insignificant aspects of nature. Cronon stated that the environment the Europeans first encountered in New England stunned them. Early descriptions were restricted to the coastline, but the accounts all agreed on the astounding level of animal and plant life in New England. The european settlers were not used to so much untamed land, as landscape for hunting in England was reserved to large landowners and the Crown. Heavy forests covered the New England terrain, which was also new to the settlers, as England had exhausted most of its timber as fuel. European settlers were struck by the absence of domesticated animals, which played a vital role in European agriculture. The European settlers and the Indians had different values on life and had differing opinions on how they should use the land around them. According to Cronon, "ManyMura-Pelkey 2European visitors were struck by what seemed to them the poverty of Indians who lived in the midst of a landscape endowed so astonishingly with abundance" The Europeans often criticized the Indian way of life. They failed to understand why the Indians willingly went hungry during the winter months when they knew food scarcity was impending. The settlers were impressed by the frequent burnings the Indians performed in the forest, which allowed for better hunting grounds and planting fields. However, the settlers criticized the division of labor between the Indian males and females. The Europeans practiced land ownership, while most Indians believed merely in territorial rights. To the Indians,...

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