Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stiles, "Rings of Fire," Trees and Serpentine

It appears in all the earliest of histories and observations of New England/Turtle Island and Stiles is no different when he writes, "The Indians always burned rings or tracts on thofe fummits, to give a clear view for hunting deer..."
And I always refer people to William Cronon and "Changes in the Land" to help them understand that it was not a "wildernefs," as Dr. Stiles writes (Ftilef writef), but a land where a people had lived for 10 or 20 thousand years, those people almost completely wiped out by European diseases.

This blog is dotted with references to Indian burning to create their Cultural Landscape, and those stone rows I keep taking photos of are the remnants of firebreaks to control burning - among other things as well.
And the trees, in the widowed land taken over by newcomers, were at first a great "free for the taking" resource if they were large enough, fire wood for an even longer time, and now just seem as if they are some sort of large weeds as we burn fossil fuels, wild and un-managed for the most part, protected in Preserves and Wildernesses.

Sometimes, as I walked around looking stone mounds, I began to recognize some rock piles compromised and and some almost destroyed by both small and large trees...

Difficult to see in video, almost impossible in photos, the Serpentine Row is best seen in person:


  1. I used to sit in those woods, dreaming of the Indians that must have been there. Your reporting is helping see how accurate that fantasy was.

  2. Imagine how many moccasin prints were put down in all those thousands of years...