William Cronon's Changes

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In William Cronon’s book Changes in the Land; Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England, he discusses the major factors Europeans and Indians had on changing the land, and the variety of ways they did that. As the far off world of Europe was gradually introduced to North America’s ecosystem, a new way of life gradually came about. Europeans viewed the land for its economic potential and merchantable commodities, they ignored the impact they were having on the ecosystem. In addition the Natives would play a crucial role in aiding the Europeans with this process of change. Through many of Cronons factors of what changed the land, I believe trade, use of land/property, and disease was the major contributors to the changing of the land.…show more content…
In negotiations, Europeans offered items such as metal implements, fabric, iron all of which offered Natives new commodities. “The objects Europeans could offer in trade had certain qualities that were completely new to Indian material culture.” The Europeans would also use wampum, symbol of high status among natives, as a source of currency as well. While the natives focused on trading furs with the Europeans “For the Indians, that trade marked a new involvement in alien commercial economy, as well as the onset of complicated shifts in their ecological circumstances.” New technology made hunting much easier. Because European goods and wampum could be obtained by killing animals, large numbers of wild animals began to disappear. As animals began to disappear, natives faced food shortages, which led to the trade of their furs for more important subsistence. “…by so willingly overhunting the beaver and other game animals, Indians across North America were responsible for attacking one of the major bases of their own subsistence.” As trade goods began to vanish, Indians were force to give up all they had left, their…show more content…
To fully engage to why a shift in the ecosystem occurred, it is vital to understand how Native and European practices were much different. Europeans colonist did not recognize Natives way of life as the right way. Indians ways of changing the natural landscape was not familiar to Europeans. Natives farmed, but did not fence their land, and did not permanently stay in one place. When soil became depleted, the natives would change locations. Natives would also burn woodlands to clear the land for farming, and make hunting much easier. Natives in a variety of areas treated the land different, which impacted it differently. Colonists argued that your right to own the land was based on how you altered it. The natives though didn’t appear to be altering the land, which meant they had no legal rights to it. Thus, settlers were granted the land by the crown, or through trade/buy with the Indians. Through granting of the land with no acknowledgement of prior ownership shows the disregard for the Natives, and the Europeans view of how the land should be used. In order to “improve” the land, much more agriculture and use of livestock would be introduced. With the Europeans introducing livestock to their land, it had crucial ecological consequences. Animals like hogs, became “weed” animals, and invaded/destroyed fields, crops, while providing prey to the
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