How The New England Colonists Altered The New England Environment

1407 words - 6 pages

How the New England Colonists Altered the New England Environment

In Changes in the Land, William Cronon points out the European colonists` pursuits of a capitalistic market and the impact it had on the New England ecosystem. Native Americans and colonists had different views on the use of land resources. The Natives viewed the land as something not owned, but as a resource to sustain life. They believe in a hunting-gathering system, hunting only when necessary. In the long run Native Americans lost their old traditions and were forced to adapt to the colonists` traditions in order to survive. This change contributed even more to the alteration of the ecosystem during the colonization period. In contrast, colonists viewed the land as capitalistic market in which they used more of the land resources without taking into consideration that one day they would run out of resources.
Before the colonists arrived in New England land resources were in abundance.
The only ones to use these resources were the Natives, but the type of resources they used where divided in regions. Northern Indians lived entirely as hunter-gatherers, while the Indians south of the Kennebec River raised crops. (p.38) Even though the Indians used a large amount of the land resources it had very little affect on the land because of techniques in which they regained some of the land resources each season. The Southern Indians changed their farming spot each season; this actually allowed the land to recuperate and become fertile once more.
Rather than raising crops all year the Indians only planted in March and June. They also used their fields to plant more than one crop; such crops included corn, beans, squash, pumpkin, and tobacco. Grain made up half of their diet; this gave the natives an advantage because grain could be easily stored for the winter. They also planted crops that fertilized the land with resources that were lost with the plantation of other plants. Indians raised crops moderately; they cultivated enough to live off of without exhausting the land.
Northern Indians depended on hunting and gathering. During the spring they lived near the river which allowed them to catch fish, whales and seals. Children would catch birds and bird eggs for food. They kept their hunting to a moderation which allowed animal populations to be sustained. They also ate native plants such as strawberries, raspberries, and other wild plants. During the months of October through March Indians moved to the forest where they hunted beaver, moose and deer. They tried to use every part of the animals they hunted; they used the animals' skin as clothing and their bones as tools. Certain tribes had rules on what to do with left over animal parts. They kept population from increasing in the winter by not storing enough food, which caused some Indians to die during the winter. They also set big forest fires during the summer and fall, which in the long run...

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