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Happy Columbus Day!

Columbus Day

“Old World” diseases had a devastating effect on the native inhabitants of the new world. There were no accurate counts at the time, but it is estimated that between 80 and 95% of native americans died from Smallpox alone. In absolute terms, this was more deaths than caused by all wars and even the Black Death. In some areas, such as the island of Cuba, the entire indigenous population died out.


One Comment

  1. David Freeman wrote:

    Coincidentally I was reading ‘Cherokee Pottery: From the Hands of our Elders’ by Anna Fariello when I saw this post about the devastation of Native peoples post Columbus.

    Fariello was referencing the much later devastation of the Trail of Tears when she said:

    “Tradition, as a mode of learning, is stable as long as the culture itself is stable, but traditional learning can be interrupted by disruption within the social structure. Such disruptions, in turn, affect the even flow of tradition and the passing of knowledge to the next and subsequent generations.”

    It struck me that the scale of horror visited upon Native American cultures is just too massive to really grasp. 80 to 95% dead from Smallpox in the early 16th Century followed by the removal of Indians fostered by Thomas Jefferson and the Trail of Tears and the massacres throughout the 19th Century; it is amazing that any vestige of some native cultures survive. Many cultures were obliterated and are now forgotten.

    This was not just genocide: this was many genocides, many Armenias and many Rwandas. Native Americans did not have just one monolithic culture. Many cultures were wiped out.

    Could our culture survive 90% dead followed by 300 years of being pressured and hunted. No.

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014 at 11:21 am | Permalink