How were the uses of land different for the puritans and for Indians?

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larrygates | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Both Puritans and Indians made use of the land for agricultural purposes; but their methods of using it varied.

Indians used a "slash and burn" method of clearing land, whereby they burned trees to create a clearing. The ashes from the burned wood acted as a fertilizer and helped crops grow. When the soil was exhausted, it was abandoned and other areas cleared. Afterwards, scrub brush and small trees grew in the abandoned area which provided a habitat for deer, turkey, and other wild game which the Indians could hunt. Eventually, the area returned to its forested nature and the process began all over again.

The Puritans seldom cleared land of their own, but rather confiscated the land which Indians had cleared, claiming that the Indians "wasted it." Many areas in New England with the word "field" as part of the name (Springfield, Deerfield, etc.) was appropriated in this fashion. If the Indians resisted, they were forced off the land. Additionally, Puritans often let their hogs run wild through the fields; the hogs ate clams on the beaches and destroyed many Indian crops. When the Indians killed the hogs, the Puritans blamed the Indians and frequently attacked them. Two wars with the Indians, the Pequot War and King Philip's War, were the result of European encroachment on Indian lands.

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