by Fred Apgar
The Saltwater Frontier
By Andrew Lipman
Andrew Lipman’s well researched book, The Saltwater Frontier, provides readers with a new and interesting way of thinking about what he refers to as America’s first frontier, the waterways and land between the Hudson River and Cape Cod. Ultimately, the Native Americans who called the area their homeland, became victims of the competition between the Dutch and English to establish its colonies.
Lipman’s historical perspective focuses on 17th century America and the depth and breadth of his research is impressive, drawing upon archeological and historical records, as well as verbal accounts of Native American traditions, readers are introduced to the Saltwater Frontier with a discussion regarding the customs, cultures, and lifestyles of the various Native American communities that lived and thrived along its numerous waterways.
Upon their arrival to the northeast coastline, the Dutch and English discovered a seafaring people who traversed the shorelines in their unique style of boats, harvesting the food resources provided by the ocean and river waters. It was the native “watermen” who provided valuable and much needed assistance to the newly established European communities of New Amsterdam and New England.
Lipman concludes his discussion regarding the Saltwater Frontier with a cautionary tale about the rise and fall of the whaling industry. Benefitted by the involvement of some Native Americans, the success of the whaling industry proved to be its downfall. Overfishing led to the decline of the industry however, whaling led to the creation of other maritime jobs and, ultimately, to the survival of some Native American communities on the Saltwater Frontier and the establishment of the coastal waters of the northeast as the first settled frontier in the New World.