From the text ... '... we casually assume that the first Europeans were naturally confronted by a vast, impenetrable wilderness of thick forests stretching from the Atlantic to the Mississippi....Europeans were very impressed by the American wilderness. A reading of the primary sources reveals that the upland regions of the eastern deciduous forest were frequently described as park-like in appearance: trees were well-spaced, there was little understory growth or litter, and the forest floor was covered with tall grass. To the Europeans this looked almost artificial, reminding him of the carefully managed parks at home.Not all the upland forests were of this open nature, and some of them were so only in the immediate vicinity of Indian settlements....The evidence thus suggests that Indians, when they did employ fire, used it responsibly -- generally as an ecological tool to carefully promote their welfare while preserving that of their natural environment. And this, in sketchy form, was the pyric function of the eastern woodland Indian in his forest environment under essentially aboriginal conditions; whatever may have happened later on to change this Indian-land relationship is beyond the scope of the present paper.Our conception of the original eastern forest and the red man's role in shaping forest structure and influencing species composition is now, hopefully, more informed. Let us now teach our children a more realistic history of the native American.'