Chapter 1 examines patterns of forest use and governance in the precolonial era, the colonial era, and in the first century following American independence. There is substantial evidence of active management and manipulation of forests by precolonial Indigenous cultures and of their development of intricate systems of resource tenure that include both rights and obligations. European colonization brought new concepts of property as well as connections to global markets in forest products; the dispossession of Indigenous peoples led to a wholesale replacement of one set of property and governance ideas with another. In the post-Revolution era, the colonial project proceeded to survey, divide, and distribute land to settler populations. Forests were centrally important to the livelihoods and economies of these populations, but prevailing practices led to widespread degradation of forests and watersheds.