The Decline Of Native Americans In American Colonies: The Settling Of North America

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The Native Americans may have been the first humans in the Americas, but their societies were reduced to ultimately nothing. From 1492 to 1600, the population of natives dropped in millions, but that was really just the beginning as their population was never able to regain what it once was before European contact. In American Colonies: The Settling of North America, by Alan Taylor, the importance of the native interactions with Europeans, along with everything they brought with them from disease to pest, that led to the demise of the natives are examined. The main reasons for the decline in Native American populations from 1492 to 1600 were deaths caused by new European diseases, conflict with Europeans, and finally population disruption and …show more content…
Europeans had been exposed to all kinds of diseases due to urbanization but it led to them becoming deadly carriers. Taylor described it in detail, “Even the mild childhood ailments of the Europeans, such as chicken pox, killed Indians of all ages. One disease often weakened an individual for a second to kill” (42). Unknowingly Europeans had killed off many of the people they wanted to use for labor and convert to Christianity. The natives were so susceptible to diseases like smallpox, measles, and influenza because of several reasons. First, the natives had almost zero experience living with or near large quantities of animals common in the Old World. In Europe this constant exchange of pathogens between human and animal led to the creation of extremely strong diseases, like smallpox, that the natives had no immune responses for. Second, most Native Americans lived in communities scattered across the land or in cities that were exceptionally clean by European standards. The natives were never exposed to the cycling of diseases common in cities caused by large, overcrowded areas. Third, many natives were made vulnerable to disease due to forced labor by the Europeans. The natives were put to work in mines and fields, in poor conditions, with little food or water, and were expected to work. These horrible conditions weakened their immune systems to the point where they had no chance of survival …show more content…
As they were quite common with one of first being against the Aztec empire led by conquistador Hernán Cortés. Worse, Spanish law essentially gave conquistadors the right to these raids; Taylor explained that, “After all, the conquistadors scrupulously adhered to the Spanish law of conquest by reading the requerimiento, which ordered defiant Indians immediately to accept Spanish rule and Christian conversion. If the indians ignored this order, they deserved the harsh punishments of a “just war”(58). This command made zero sense as the natives spoke a completely different language, but it gave the conquistadors a legal right to raid and pillage. Then, after the conquest of the Aztecs and Incas a new period of explorers were born in search of similar treasures. Unfortunately, there was not much to be found in the Americas, which infuriated the conquistadores who wasted so much to get back so little. Taylor described this concept saying that, “On the Aztec precedent, the Spanish assumed that every such Indian people also possessed gold or precious gems” (74). This situation often resulted in the massacre of many natives like the Mississippians at the hands of Hernando de Soto and the Pueblo people by Francisco Coronado. What enabled the Europeans to defeat the natives so easily was a huge technological gap. Spanish forces employed cavalry units, guns, and even war dogs into

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