When Cultures Collide

This paper is based on the book Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England by William Cronon and also the textbook Created Equal Volume 1 A History of the United States 3rd Edition. (primarily chapters 1-3) Use these for the citations.

In his book, Changes in the Land, William Cronon presents a compelling picture of the reasons for the tensions between Anglo colonists and indigenous peoples in the Northeast. Cronon argues that the conflicts resulted from fundamentally different conceptions of land and its uses. Other historians have described the antagonism in other ways and some have even suggested that there were moments of accommodation, as well as conflict. In an essay of 4-6 pages, focus on the question of whether or not Cronon sees the conflict as inevitable.

You will also need to address the related question of whether or not you agree with Cronon’s assessment. (In other words, have any of our readings or any information given in lectures suggested that conflict between Anglo settlers and native peoples was not inevitable, but was instead the result of individuals choices? Could things have turned out differently?) You should do this in a substantive way (that is, in much more than a sentence or two).

The essay will involve summarizing parts of Cronon’s argument and providing detailed evidence from both Cronon’s book and other course material. Use at least three examples of events or people, from course lectures and readings (at least one drawn from a primary source) to substantiate your analysis of Cronon and your argument for or against him.

Writing Tips
Your answer will require a brief summary of Cronon’s argument. Sometimes this can be accomplished while you are evaluating his argument (that is, you can describe a major point that he makes, and then suggest either why you find it persuasive or why you do not, providing other examples to support your assessment). IF you have a separate summary section, be sure it is no more than 1 long or 2 short paragraphs.

You will need to provide citations for ALL examples, whether you paraphrase or use direct quotes. Do not worry about having too many citations. Your essay’s originality and thoughtfulness will come through in topic sentences, transitions, introductions, conclusions in other words, from how you arrange and frame your evidence. (NB: You will receive instruction on Chicago-style citation in your section.)

Also do NOT assume that your readers are familiar with the sources to which you refer; you will need to identify these sources and make clear their relevance to your argument.

This essay is NOT a review of Changes in the Land. Your thesis should NOT say that you think the book is good, bad, important or unimportant. It SHOULD say whether or not Cronon sees conflict as inevitable. The remainder of the essay supports that argument about Changes in the Land and, also explains whether or not what you have learned in this class supports Cronon’s attitude.

Format and Length
Both drafts of the essay should be 4-6 pages of typed or printed-out text, double-spaced, with 12 point font and 1 inch margins. Please be sure to number the pages and staple or clip them together.
There should be at least 5 citations and they should be listed as footnotes throughout the paper.

Make the thesis statement into a paragraph and argue for the inevitability of the ecological/cultural changes that the settlement of the colonists created. Support this in following paragraphs by why/how this occured. Follow that with examples supporting the inevitability that cronon seemed to be arguing for. Finally add your opinion. I believe it was inevitable but by pointing out the things that clearly went wrong we can see there were oppertunities to prevent the extent of the damages caused. So we need to not be satisfied that it was inevitable but learn from the mistakes made in future situations.

Support for inevitability

Different cultural mentalities

land usage-cohabitation was impossible due to their lifestyles

competition for dwindling resources

animal husbandry


European Influence..pressure on the colonists to turn a profit and supply trade leads colonists to pressure the indians more greatly

concentration of settlers

hindsight is 20/20


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