Analysis Of Settling With Animals

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For many years before the exploration and colonization of America the English lived alongside domesticated animals and considered them to be a vital component of civilization. When migrating to the new colonies, the English sought to create a land comparable to life in England. However, while animals were imperative to life in England, they were quickly marginalized in the colonies. While the colonists were busy cultivating food crops and tobacco, they allowed their animals to wander into the forests to find food and many of the livestock became feral. The livestock then began encroaching on Indian cultivated fields and the domesticated animals became a means of conflict and war between Native Americans and the English in the years after…show more content…
Indians understood animals to be powerful creatures possessing their own spiritual power and deserving of respect, but available as a food source. Therefore, Natives struggled to understand that animals could be property, but under the pressure of the English invasion attempted to integrate livestock into their lives. On the other hand, the English saw animals as property and as an indication of the supremacy of sophisticated agricultural culture. In part two, “Settling with Animals” Anderson examines the development of livestock agriculture in North America. The imported animals changed not only the land, but also “the hearts and minds, and behavior of the people who dealt with them”. (p.5) When the English arrived in America with their livestock the colonists became less focused on the animals and more focused on the cultivating of fields for crops for export and food purposes. The lack of labor and costs involved in the operation of farm lands led to the English being forced to allow their animals to roam freely in the woods. Ultimately, they lost control of the livestock and many of the herds became as feral as the animals the Indians typically…show more content…
Even Anderson affirms that “although livestock can hardly be blamed for everything that happened in early America, they certainly helped to shape the course of events.” (p. 242) It is much more likely that the increase in population among the colonists and the increase in the number animals drove the expansion of the settlements into Indian territory and pushed the Native Americans from their lands. The livestock was left to roam freely, but it was not the freedom of the animals that drove Indians from their homes and land. It was the conflict between the English settlers and the Native Americans that were decisive in the changes of the settlement process. Nevertheless, the work delivers a respected view at a different aspect of colonization and the relationship between the people, the land, and the animals. However, throughout the three sections of Creatures of Empire Virginia DeJohn Anderson manages to prove that livestock played a vital role in the establishment of the Chesapeake and New England colonies and the relationships between the natives and the
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