A World Of Fields And Fences

  • Category: American History
  • Words: 878
  • Grade: 75
A World of Fields and Fences
        European settlers and North American Natives had very different conceptions and ideas about property. Natives had spent many years in a pre-contact environment practicing the communal ownership of property. Evidently, it would have been a strange sight for them to see an area like New England which became a land of "fields and fences" shortly after European contact. These fences denoted the beginning of the end of the nomadic life that Natives had been leading up till this point. The fences signified the changes that were made in the native landscape in North America after European settlement.
        It was deemed necessary by the Europeans to erect fences on their new land. Fences were used to define property boundaries and to deter animals from roaming in and eating their crops. The idea of fencing in property was so ingrained in the minds of the European settlers that they even created a law that dealt with fences. Property laws would only cover the lands that were surrounded by a fence. Evidently this law was created to exclude the Native inhabitants of the land. Native property was not protected under the law because they were seen as not contributing to the land. Evidently, this law offered the Europeans justification for the theft of more Native land. This clash of European and Native ideals is just one example of the ongoing struggle of the indigenous people to maintain their way of life.
Land of Demographic Takeover
        The European settlers came to North America and set out to decimate a population of people. Natives were forced to assimilate, had their land stolen from them and were forced to live on reserves. Yet not all places where Europeans settled included an assimilated population, in certain places the Native population had been destroyed and replaced by a European one.
        These "Lands of Demographics Takeover" often shared the same climate as Europe. Similar climates were influential in the European dominance in these areas. European settlers were able to exercise the same farming techniques that they had used at home. Apart from climate there are other factors that influenced this phenomena.
        To begin with, the populations of these countries exploded. The population of English settlers skyrocketed due to such a rich natural environment. As European populations steadily rose, the populations of Native peoples began to drop. The Europeans had introduced a plethora of foreign diseases into the Native population. Never having being exposed to these diseases before and therefore having no immunity to them, the natives died by the thousands. The rising European population, coupled with the dropping Native population facilitated the European demographic takeover in some areas.
        Furthermore, due to the similarities between the climates, European plants and animals thrived in their new environment. European animals sometimes even arrived before the settlers did. This allowed them time to grow, so that they were ready for the settlers when they arrived. As European plants grew they choked out the native ones and flourished in their new home. This helped in the maintenance of their herds.

The Myth of Superabundance
        When European settlers first saw North America they were in awe of its rich natural splendor. The amount of untapped natural resources that were available to them was astronomical. Many of the resources that abounded in North America were ones that were considered to be very scarce in Europe at the time. This tempted the settlers to exploit a resource and then send it back to Europe. This commodification of nature was part of the Myth of Superabundance.
        Settlers were under the impression that as soon as they exhausted a resource in one area they could simply move on to the next one and exhaust it there. The settlers had no idea the strain that they were putting on the environment or the long lasting problems that they were on their way to creating.
        Trees were being cut down at an alarming rate in Nova Scotia. The forestry industry was very lucrative but extremely destructive. However, trees were not the only resource to suffer. Greedy buffalo hunters were depleting the seemingly endless buffalo that once roamed the United States. Their carcasses were strewn across the landscape and the herds became harder to find. The "Myth of Superabundance" is an example of human arrogance; nature is not man's grocery store and whenever it is treated as such problems arise.
Homo Sapiens as a Fire Creature
        From primitive times to the contemporary period fire has always been one of man's primary resources. It is a resource that is as deadly and dangerous as it is beneficial and necessary. Natives used fire to raze the land; this practice created healthier forests and minimized the risks of future forest fires. Even the Europeans used fire in their agricultural practices.
        As time progressed people slowly began to forget the beneficial uses of fire and started to fear it. It was seen as an unstoppable, destructive force. Strangely enough though humans rely on fire more now than we ever have. However, in the modern period fire is contained, controlled or put out in almost every instance. Many environmentalists are advocating that people allow fires to burn out on their own. Some believe that this is beneficial for the environment and that man should only intervene when human life is threatened.         
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