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View Diary: Indians 101: Aboriginal Farming in New England (35 comments)

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  •  No hunting? (3+ / 0-)
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    BlueJessamine, Ojibwa, ER Doc

    I realize the first European settlers in New England - and North America in general - might have overlooked some of the agricultural aspects of Native American cultures (as they tended to overlook most native things), but they certainly would have been aware of Indian reliance on hunting. The Native agriculture as you describe is pretty poor in protein (outside of the beans), and while the women were tending their fields, the men were probably likely to be out bolstering the tribe's protein intake though hunting and/or fishing/shellfish gathering. In a non-technological culture, people need to exploit any and every source of nutrition they can, and hunting/trapping/fishing for edible animals isn't a niche that is likely to go unexploited, and certainly didn't in the pre-Columbian Americas.

    Mainly, because, IIRC, , inlike Old World cultures, New World natives had no domesticated animals except dogs and turkeys to raise. (?)

    •  "settlers" is not the term I would use (3+ / 0-)
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      Snarky McAngus, Ojibwa, Jay C

      I'm white, but I've immersed myself in documents from early 17th century Quebec, New England, and Virginia (mostly Virginia). I would call the Europeans "invaders." The coastal natives (this goes for the West coast as well) were highly organized, agricultural people. I wouldn't call them "non-technological" either.

      "Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom." -- Thomas Jefferson

      by pianogramma on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 09:22:33 AM PST

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    •  Almost Arboreal Agriculture (5+ / 0-)

      I seem to recall that the North American aboriginals practiced a very sophisticated harvesting of the forests which surprised the arriving Europeans.  One of the things that the newcomers noticed was that the forest floor in New England and the Northeast was very open, almost park-like in aspect, and believed that was its natural state.  It wasn't.  The American aboriginals cultured the forest floor via controlled burns in order to make sure open spaces existed to attract valuable wildlife.  The newcomers have detailed how during their voyages up the Hudson River that that surrounding hills seems ablaze with these burns as the American aboriginals tended their land to maximize available yield.  The practices differed from those the Europeans were familiar with but they increased the value of the terrain for those resources valued most.  Opening the forest undergrowth offers the potential for increased deer and wild turkey yields, resources any sane population would gladly seek.

      "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

      by PrahaPartizan on Tue Nov 13, 2012 at 02:28:12 PM PST

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      •  Another reason for all the open fields (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PrahaPartizan

        was that the population had experienced a dramatic decline over the preceding century as a result of smallpox. As a result, a lot of previously cultivated agricultural land had been abandoned.

        I have direct ancestors who arrived in Virginia as early as 1610 or 1611. The mortality they experienced was horrific -- as high as 80% --  and almost of it was from direct conflict with the people who were already there, other than a single attack in 1622.  Had they cared to pay attention to how the Indians had created quite successful agriculture before smallpox had decimated them, a lot more might have survived.

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