Colonial land use – interpretation and conflict- Colonial land use – interpretation and conflict introduction.
By the time European settlers came to what they defined as the “new world”, existing Native American or Indian cultures had established recognizable patterns for land usage. Natives to American believed that certain land must always be used in a certain way, with these ways often defined through spiritual interpretation. Meanwhile, European settlers brought with them the ideas more prevalent in the more-populated areas of Europe and expected to implement many of those land use ideas in the New World. As a result of this disagreement in land use, conflicts results frequently.
The Native American concept of land use stemmed from being attuned to nature and incorporating it into every part of life. Native Americans built their settlements to be a complement to the nature that surrounded their areas. Beyond their community dwellings, they divided up land for use by how it best fit with nature, and did not use any more land than was necessary.
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In contrast, the European concept of land use was more possessive than complementary. Embracing a concept not familiar to Native Americans, Europeans claimed any land they saw, and later made purchase and sale agreements for that land. The European ideal was to possess as much land as possible, even if that land was not being utilized. Nature was not so much a concern to the Europeans, and they often set about to tear down entire areas of forestry because it was in the way. Instead of the Indian way of building around the land, Europeans leveled the land and built over it.
Many conflicts resulted because of differing interpretations of land use by Native Americans and Europeans. One of the most notable of the conflicts was the Chickamauga Wars. A result of Native Americans and Europeans attempting to use the same parcels of land, this series of wars ended in a peace treaty in 1794. Another notable conflict was the Northwest Indian War, which resulted when a large number of European settlers migrated to the Northwest Territories. Native Americans were very upset about this migration and about their precious land being used in ways the thought desecrating to the land. Conflict arose and despite attempts at settlement, violence continued and continued until very organized European forces overwhelmed Indian warriers and forced a settlement. As with most treaties signed between Native Americans and Europeans, this treaty greatly favored the Europeans.
Much conflict could have been avoided had there been a way for Europeans and Native Americans to effectively communicate with one another about the ways in which they used land. Perhaps if an agreement could have been reached early on, both parties could have lived peacefully with one another. But because the new ways introduced by the Europeans differed so greatly from the traditions embraced by the Native Americans, conflict was a normal part of colonial life.