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Natives were one of the first people to actively come together and live in harmony as a civilization. They did so for thousands of years, however, this way of life has been jeopardized ever since Columbus decided to colonize North America in 1492. In 158 years the total population dropped profusely from more than 112 million Native Americans living peacefully until 1492, to less than 6 million in 1650. This is not only due to the brute way the Columbus and his men removed the Natives from their land but also due to the fact that were dirty pirates that carried many Eurasian diseases that don’t/barely harm the conquistadors but were deadly to the natives. Why?
At the beginning of Christopher Columbus and his European fleet’s invasion there were an estimated of 18 million Natives living just north of Mexico. Before the arrival of the Europeans, Native Indians were stunningly free of disease. The likelihood of someone passing away from a disease was slim. When Christopher Columbus, colonists & explorers started to show up the consequences were disastrous for the Natives, deaths tolls rose to 80-90% and entire crowds of people wiped away from simple diseases such as: “bubonic plague, chicken pox, pneumonic plague, cholera, diphtheria, influenza, measles, scarlet fever, smallpox, typhus, tuberculosis, and whooping cough”. The most damaging disease brought by Columbus and his conquistadors was smallpox. The natives referred to this disease as the running face illness. Their immune system was not ready for such a brutal attack, the only diseases they’d ever have to face were through animals. This had gone on for so many years that the immune system was more than ready to tackle these illnesses. However, no one was ready for the death and destruction the conquistadors brought to the new world.
If we travel forward in time a few hundred years and compare the way of life of the natives and how people in America lived we see great changes on both ends since the arrival of the colonists. Not all were good, The natives still have a matriarchal society, women played a big role in society since they had most of the central roles of political leadership and control of the property. However there is no “one size fits all” answer some native colonies were peaceful some warlike, however, one thing that was the same for all colonies were the living conditions. They were great however the food was everywhere, health restored to its state that it was before the Europeans arrived and Populations grew profusely. When we look at one of the biggest cities in the world that was founded in 1624 (New York) and compare it to the lives of these natives we see that the living conditions of the average citizen I come to the quick conclusion that I would much rather have been a Native in 19th-century America. This is because in 1845 the potato famine started in Ireland. The potato famine caused mass starvation all across the United Kingdom at the time. This forced thousands of Irish men, women and children to move to countries where this potato famine had no effect on, therefore many Irish men (men women and children) decided to move to the new world and the biggest city and most logical decision to follow the American dream was to move to New York City. Nevertheless when they arrived and saw that the living spaces were limited and that it was near impossible to join a workforce many immigrants especially Italian resulted in a life of crime. However, if we look at the downsides to living as a Native American in 1800 we slowly begin to realize why many people didn’t solve their problems by just becoming a native American.
The living conditions might have been decent in the 1800s but the way of a Native American life was not as simple as hunting, eating and sitting around a campfire. During a period referred to the colonial period (1540 to 1774), there were constant battles occurring with different parts of the natives under attack. Important dates, The beaver wars were the longest wars during the colonial period and were the wars between the French and Iroquois from 1609 to 1701.
One of the more famous wars were the Anglo-Powhatan Wars. This war consisted from 3 battles that were fought out by the English settlers of Virginia and the Algonquin of the Powhatan Confederacy. The Kieft’s war was a 2-year long war was fought on the Dutch soil in New Jersey by Dutch people vs the Lenape People. The last war during the colonial period was Lord Dunmore’s War which took place in western Virginia. This was a conflict between the Mingo and Shawnee Native nations during 1774.
Now to skip forward in time once again. We travel to the turn of the 21st century and when we look at the modern-day natives you’ll realize you can’t really call them natives but citizens with a hobby. The culture that was once the heart of these tribes are now being held on to but clearly slowly slipping away. However the traditional “living in tipis” Indians do still exist but since the western/modern civilization has destroyed many of their homes, killed their ancestors and named them outcast many have had to adapt to a more modern way of life. Not only have we removed them from the society we have removed them from their homes, but the most common way was deforestation.
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