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Book Review Ecology of New England In his book Changes in the Land William Cronon explores the relationship between the Europeans and the indigenous Indian populations and the local ecologies in the fifteenth through the seventeenth centuries In the preface Cronon states that the shift from Indian to European domination in New England entailed important changeswell known to historiansin the ways these people organized their lives but also involved fundamental reorganizationsless well known to historiansin the regions plant and animal communities vii Cronons approach involves an investigation not only of the role of a rapid changing human population played in the altering of the ecology of New England but the impact that ecology had on the local Indian population through time By using a traditional historical study with tools from the biological and anthropological studies Cronon developed an analysis on the time period of the colonization of America By placing an emphasis on their centrality to the understanding of the changes taking place in the local ecosystem Cronon describes relationships between Indian and American group and emphasizing the different American responses to different populations He underscores the importance of viewing these contacts not as being wholly representative of the American or Indian populations but as meetings with their situational patterns of interactions with historical data Working within these smaller ecosystems Indians of pre-colonial New England existed off the land in a migratory fashion Cronon distinguishes between the Indians of Northern New England who solely relied on hunting and fishing in responses to an unfriendly climate and the Southern New England Indians who relied on agriculture for roughly two thirds of their diet 42 Through the use of small controlled burning of the forest movement between food sources during the course of the year low population densities especially in Northern New England and the use of a multi-crop agriculture among Southern Indians the impact of the human population on local ecosystems was small
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