Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Book Review

Excerpt from Book Review :

Cronin must use the words of European observers and attempt to glean the facts about Native American behavior behind the tone of judgmental prose. Cronin admits that some of his history is impressionistic, to some degree, given that the hard data about the ecology of the Americas is not available to him, as even extant documents did not contain the meticulous detail he might have liked about the native land (Cronin 179).

For example, in attempting to demonstrate how the Indian methods of growing were more sustainable, Cronin quotes a European traveler who was shocked by the apparent scattered diversity of Indian methods of planting crops, versus orderly European monoculture (Cronin 50). By not having a monoculture system, however, the Indian methods did not deplete the soil to the same degree as the Europeans. The benefits of diversity also yielded better nutrition. However, monoculture systems of agriculture are typical of capitalism, where more than the individual can eat is raised, so the crops can be sold or traded for other items. That is why the Europeans looked down on native farming methods, as well as saw native hunting practices as laziness rather than wisdom, once the white settlers dominated, the burning practices were abandoned and the land grew much poorer (Cronin 174).

Cronin's ideology is anti-colonialist to some degree, but he never falls into the trap of some pro-native historians of idealizing the lifestyle of the Native Americans. Their system was organic in the sense that it developed in conjunction with the land, rather than was imposed upon from the outside, like the European system. Cronin's ultimate proof of his thesis, as well as his analysis of documents, is what happened to the land after the natives were driven off their areas that they cultivated. Dust bowls and famines were the results of European agriculture, because it did not sufficiently replenish the soil with nutrients, and because over-hunting became so common.

Work Cited

Cronin, William. Changes in the land: Indians, colonists, and the ecology…

Sources Used in Document:

Work Cited

Cronin, William. Changes in the land: Indians, colonists, and the ecology of New England.

Hill & Wang, 2003.

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