Abenaki Indians as Environment Essay

759 Words Sep 25th, 1999 4 Pages
Many people are under a false impression that early Native Americans are the original environmentalists. This is an impression that many people share. The Abenaki tribes that resided in Maine from 3700 BP were not by our traditional definition, environmentalists. In fact they were far from ecologically sound. This paper is meant not to criticize the Native Americans of the age, but to clarify their roles in the environment. To better understand this subject some background is needed. The Abenaki People of the Northeast led a non-permanent exististance based mostly on the seasonal flux in the region. The area of land now referred to as Maine especially. Maine has always had abrupt seasons and the Abenaki used these seasons to their …show more content…
They practiced a form of clearcutting known today as anthropogenic fire, anthro meaning “human” and pogenic meaning “induced”. They would purposely ignite massive forest fires around their encampment for a variety of reasons. These areas would burn underbrush and smaller trees but not ignite the foliage of the huge trees. This burning was good for some forms of agriculture. Many nuts and berries, including Maine’s own blueberries, recovered quickly and would have a better growing season if the ground were charred by fire. Hunting was easier without the underbrush to hinder the chasing down of the game. The occurrences of raids by other tribes were lessened because it was easier to see into the forests. Anthropogenic fire was also used as a pest deterrent in many areas. There were obvious disadvantages to anthropogenic fire as well. The setting of massive fires often resulted in unpredictable fires and many times would destroy necessary natural resources. These fires also reduced natural species of both animal and plants therefore reducing diversity. Early Europeans reported seeing huge amounts of smoke coming from the forests when they came across land in ships. As you can see, by our current definition of environmentalism the Native Americans of the time were not the epitome. The Abenaki did however understand something that not only the colonists and explorers the time did not, that which many of us currently do not

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