Discussion Questions

1. How did the Puritans use Biblical images and ideas to interpret nature in the New World? What environmental role might such imagery have played?

2. What similarities and differences existed between the views of Anne Bradstreet, Edward Johnson, and Cotton Mather on nature and the environment in New England?

3. How did Indian men and women produce subsistence in New England? Were the two sexes equal in their contributions? How do their roles in subsistence production compare to those of the Pueblo and Micmac?

4. Compare and contrast Indian, colonists', and the English King's use, management, and conservation of the New England forest. What ecological changes might have resulted from each approach?

5. How does the history of New England told from the standpoint of a beaver differ from the same history told from the standpoint of a colonial settler? What different assumptions underlie the two histories? What are some consequences of writing environmental histories from the perspectives of nonhuman components of the ecosystem--such as a white pine tree, a rock, a river, or another animal?

6. How did the ecology of New England change between 1600 and 1700? What concepts do you find most useful for explaining the transformation? Which of these concepts are key to your own historical explanation?