William Cronon’s Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England (1983) looks at environmental change and human landscaping in pre-Columbian and colonial New England. Cronon argues that what we think of as “nature” on the so-called American frontier was not an untouched and pristine wilderness, but a heavily landscaped environment where American Indians used a range of tools, including fire and species selection, to shape their physical surroundings for centuries. By recognizing that humans are not in a biblical battle to tame a dangerous and wild earth, Cronon says we can move beyond romanticized views of nature and understand the complex relationships between cultures and their environments.
Cronon, William. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. 1st ed. New York: Hill and Wang, 1983.
By N. H. Gill