Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England.
New York: Hill and Wang, 1983.
In the preface, Cronon
states the book is an “ecological history of New England.” In order to
reveal this history, the interrelations between the populations of New England
(i.e. Native Americans, colonists, as well as wildlife) must be described.
Using ecological and historical sources, Cronon describes these relationships,
reminding us that the pre-colonial ecosystem was a result of a cumulative sequence
of ecological processes and historical events [viii]. He then describes
the ways different populations interacted with the environment. These
differences were not only due to the population’s vision of nature as a commodity
(or not), but also due to their varying views of land and property ownership.
Native Americans practiced mobility, exploiting the seasonal diversity of the
land , while colonists were sedentary, firmly believing in bounding land
(via fences). Cronon depicts the effects of these beliefs upon nature
and concludes with the ecological changes resulting in the compelled sedentary
life of Native Americans. Throughout the book explicit relations between
animal and plant species and man are shown, such as that of the beaver and its
disappearance, various deforestation and fertilization methods, and the import
of weeds from Europe. One can see the relationships between nature and
man, man and man, nature and nature are intertwined, forever influencing one
another. [J. Hembree]