Monday, February 18, 2008


So I’m sort of rereading Bragdon’s Native People of Southern New England, 1500-1650, and find that my use of “riverine” in describing the Wigwams is incorrect and the proper word is “Lacustrine.”
And then this morning I found three other words underlined in red (but in black here) on page 192:

“(George R.) Hamell’s research focused on those sacred places…metaphorical thresholds between this world and other worlds, the crossing of which entails physical, spiritual, and social transformation. Thresholds might, he argues, be coterminous for farming people with the village clearing…(A)nomalous watery places, springs, whirlpools, swamps, and marshes, many identified with…salamanders, lizards, turtles, frogs, and snakes, as well as…beavers and otters (from Man in the Northeast 1987:67-69, listed in her References as “Mythical Realities and European Contact in the Northeast during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries” 33: 63-87).

So, consulting an online dictionary, I look up:
co·ter·mi·nous (k -tûr m -n s) adj.
Variant of conterminous.
(k n-tûr m -n s) also co·ter·mi·nous (k -)
1. Having a boundary in common; contiguous: The northern border of the United States is conterminous with the southern border of Canada.
2. Contained in the same boundaries; coextensive: the conterminous 48 states.
3. Having the same scope, range of meaning, or extent in time.
[From Latin conterminus : com-, com- + terminus, boundary.]

So a little later, I pick up my much underlined “Changes in the Land” by William Cronon, and I’m reading about Villages and find the quote I was sort of thinking about from Edward Winslow who once wrote “Every Sachem knoweth how far the bounds and limits of his Country extendeth,” followed a few sentences later with Cronan saying, “A sachem’s land was coterminous with the with the area within a village’s economic subsistence and political expressions were most immediately expressed.”

Both books speak of the humanly created cultural landscape of the same time, more or less,mostly by controlled burning.
I claim to see (and have been photographing and posting here) remnants of stone rows that sort of seem to outline these very things and could be a way to controll burning, mostly before the great depopulation of the Northeast by disease - and imitated, often unsuccessfully, by early European settlers.
Well, I think so anyway…

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