Changes in the Land Essay

355 Words2 Pages
Kylie Zhang AP U.S. History 7 October 2012 Summary of Changes In The Land William Cronon's Changes In The Land describes the process of ecological change of New England which occurred with the shift from Indian to European dominance. The book shows colonists’ perceptions of the land, the ways of life Indians chose, and the Europeans’ influence on the new land. Cronon uses various evidence, such as primary sources, scientific data of other scholars, descriptions by travelers, and other disciplines, to explain why New England habitats changed as they did during the colonial period. At the beginning of Changes In The Land, Cronon contrasts the precolonial ecosystems of New England with those that existed in the early nineteenth century. When the colonists first arrived, they were shocked by the prosperous and extensive resources. The large amount of untamed land, heavy forests, abundant animal species were all new to the settlers. When many Indians died of disease that the settlers had brought from Europe, the Europeans believed God had essentially set them up for life in the New World. Then, Cronon compares the ecological relationships of Indian communities with those of the arriving Europeans, especially in the terms of how the respective groups conceived of owning property. For instance, the Europeans didn’t understand the Indians’ methods of farming according to seasons; the settlers criticized the division of labor between the Indian males and females; the Indians merely believed in territorial rights which were used by the Europeans. Last, Cronon spent the rest of the book describing the changing circumstances in New England’s plant and animal communities that occurred after the Europeans’ arrival. Town and colony records addressed the entire range of ecological changes: deforestation, the keeping of livestock, the extermination of predators such as wolves and
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