Gold to Grass

Was this guy not meant to be intertwined in the complexities of domestication?  To go from the pursuit of gold to the pursuit of grass impresses me much more than it does Anderson.  I understand that Percy may have had a keen eye for meadows but I would expect that a perilous journey to the new world would produce more grand aspirations.  Perhaps this reveals the genius in Percy and also the importance of domestication.  As the book describes it, it seems that colonization began before the true potential for domestication was realized.  Does this mean that colonists believed they could lead a life independent from domestication?  This seems very unlikely especially since life in England depended on domestication so why did early colonists seem so surprised in an aspect of the land that should have been a requirement to deem it fit for colonization?  The book also describes the pursuit of agriculture arising because England wanted to differentiate itself from Spain’s conquests.  Again I find it funny that England did not pursue domestication and agriculture for the obvious benefits, but for some other reason.  Luck seems to have played too much of a role in the part of our history.

The short discussion about religion as a driving force for colonization and domestication really peaked my interest.  I do not doubt the fact that religion drove early colonization but later generations must have been more economically driven.  The children of farmers could not know about the differences between “civilized” and “uncivilized” besides what they read about or heard of England.  I guess my point here is that religion and economic means are both given as a reason for colonization, yet it seems to me that only economic reasons could have continued the pursuit of colonization.  This being said, perhaps religion did not play as much of a part in motivating colonization as some texts might has us believe.

I found it really unfortunate that the environment friendly way that Native American’s used the land was actually used to justify taking it from them.  This shows the ignorance of humans regarding our environment and unfortunately this divinely “just” relationship between man and nature has persisted and is the root of many of the problems we are faced with today.  I cannot believe how such absurd ways of justifying stealing were accepted.  I found some of them almost comical because it is so hard to believe that people actually believed their reasoning was just.  I almost want to hope that the colonists realized what they were doing was not right but did it anyways for self-gain.  I find this more acceptable than colonists actually believing they had a right to the land due to the way Native Americans lead their lives.  Puts a dark spin on Thanksgiving doesn’t it?  I enjoy and share in the author’s sarcasm”


“These activities, along with English-style agriculture, “improved” the land in ways that Indian practices did not.”


It is easy to define the colonists’ actions and intentions as immoral when the negative effects on an indigenous population are so apparent, but what if there were no native people in the Americas?  Would it still have been ok for colonists to go about settling the land the way they did?  This was the only way they knew how to survive and it worked, so perhaps some harm on the natural environment is necessary.  There has to be a balance at some point where the harm on the environment is not worth the benefits to human kind.   Sure we can cut down that tree to make a house for a family but let’s not cut down 10 trees so that family can have a house, a summer home and a winter home.  Things could be so different today if we hadn’t begun our expansion with such a superiority complex over the environment.  I believe that progress can be achieved somewhere between the spectrum of Native American attitudes toward nature and European colonists attitude towards nature.


I know that I didn’t discuss much about domestication but our class discussion always leads to questions of morality so I thought that I would blog about it for once.

One Response to “Gold to Grass”
  1. A. Nelson 2 April 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    Wonderfully interesting post! Anderson does a fabulous job of showing how the colonists’ domesticated animals shaped and usurped the native Americans’ land. Thinking about how native Americans responded to the arrival of cattle, sheep, etc., and the ways in which these animals became agents of empire adds considerable insight to a story we think we already know.

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