Beans helped replace nitrogen taken from the soil by corn; cornstalks provided “poles” for the beans to climb; and broad-leaved squash plants helped cut down on weed growth and erosion.
Farming seems to have allowed native populations to increase in the millennium before European contact.
Nature Transformed Native Americans and the Land Wilderness and American Identity The Use of the Land The Use of the Land Essays Cities and Suburbs History with Fire in Its Eye The Civil War: An Environmental View Roads, Highways, and Ecosystems Three Worlds, Three Views Environmental Justice for All Choosing Future Population Nature Transformed is made possible by grants from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.
Nature Transformed Advisors and Staff Three Worlds, Three Views: Culture and Environmental Change in the Colonial South Timothy Silver Appalachian State University ©National Humanities Center For nearly three hundred years before the American Revolution, the colonial South was a kaleidoscope of different people and cultures.
Yet all residents of the region shared two important traits.
First, they lived and worked in a natural environment unlike any other in the American colonies.To clear farmland, the natives used fire and stone axes to remove smaller brush and timber.They then stripped the bark (a process known as girdling) from larger trees so that they sprouted no leaves and eventually died.Trade, however, was more than simply an economic enterprise.Before any items changed hands, traders often ate together, smoked tobacco, or practiced other rituals designed to indicate friendship.In many cultures, Indian men never ate the first game animal they killed because they believed that the animal’s kin might become angry and never allow themselves to be taken.One of the most prominent rituals was the Green Corn Ceremony, which coincided with the ripening of maize.Second, like humans everywhere, their presence on the landscape had profound implications for the natural world.Exploring the ecological transformation of the colonial South offers an opportunity to examine the ways in which three distinct cultures—Native American, European, and African—influenced and shaped the environment in a fascinating part of North America.The Native American World Like natives elsewhere in North America, those in the South practiced shifting seasonal subsistence, altering their diets and food gathering techniques to conform to the changing seasons.In spring, a season which brought massive runs of shad, alewives, herring, and mullet from the ocean into the rivers, Indians in Florida and elsewhere along the Atlantic coastal plain relied on fish taken with nets, spears, or hooks and lines.