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  1. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Inevitable genocide

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Jack Asher, Oct 15, 2015.

    In honor (kind of) of Columbus Day, which just became Indigenous Peoples day in my city, it's important to absolve ourselves of a little white guilt.

    Yes Columbus was a racist asshole. Yes the white settlers enslaved where they could, raped as they would, and generally stuck their dick in this entire hemisphere. The actions of most colonists and conquistadors of unconscionable. But what your school may have brushed over is why is was able to happen in the first place.

    You probably remember that disease killed off many First Nation people from school. What was probably never brought home for you was how "many" was "many."

    Around 90%, maybe 95%. Small pox alone accounted for nearly 40% of the deaths. And this was set in motion, just with the arrival of the first conquerors in the New World. San Salvador, where Columbus first landed saw a 99% reduction in native population over the first 100 years. When the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth the first village they found had been completely wiped out by disease about two weeks prior.

    Without those steep drops in population the appropriation of Native could never have taken place. They died out and we moved into their land. The population of New York when the Pilgrims landed was around 100,000, when the Dutch landed 70 years later, it was down to 9,000.

    And nothing could have been done about it. It doesn't matter what kind of person Columbus was, or Cortes or Pizarro. The meeting of the old and new world was inevitable, someone was going to bridge that gap, in 1492 or 2492, and when they did they were going to bring small pox, measles, rubella, diphtheria and polio. The advances that allowed us do treat those diseased relied on technology from the new world. We couldn't have developed vaccines without rubber, as a for instance. And rubber is a new world commodity.

    The domination of the First Nations is a tragedy, but it's made all the more tragic because there is absolutely nothing that could have been done to stop it. We are living in the midst of a disease wasteland.
     
  2. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The disease wave did precede western migration, which is why Europeans, as they headed west, assumed populations were small and areas sparsely inhabited. So many people had already died.
     
  3. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    It's important to also remember that the natives susceptibility to disease was also used as an argument of their inferiority. But while our ancestors might have been really racist, nothing they could have done would have stopped the dying.
     
  4. Aire
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    Aire Banned Sock-Puppet

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    So the point is what ... whites aren't to blame, disease did it. Sorry to say but disease was also bad for a number of the European conquerors - exotic diseases isolated in North America only, not to mention poor diets, etc. So it's something of an "excuse" to lay blame on disease.

    Particularly when disease wouldn't be responsible for the suffering aboriginals undergo in modern times. My uncle [my blood aunt's husband] is aboriginal. He survived the residential schools in Canada - he has stories that will make your skin crawl. In some ways there was undeniable torture going on in those residential schools - and though not as extreme as the Nazis by any stretch the residential schools indeed destroyed an entire culture.

    I mean it wasn't uncommon "punishment" for aboriginal children found writing their native language to have their hands burnt on HOT stovetops. Lashed so badly you can't move without splitting open the wounds - if the pain doesn't keep you bed ridden. Hands broken, fingers broken. Socked in the jaw for speaking your native language. Locked in cellars for hours - days on end. That's off the top of my head mind you. I am seeing my uncle this weekend to help with the harvest, as he assists my father, and I can certainly ask for more details.

    And yes aboriginals weren't all "drunks". My uncle has worked since he was able - not an easy job because most people still see aboriginals as "scum" or useless. His brother is a hunting guide and has problems - there's no denying that - however, neither of their parents [one a chieftain and the other a nurse] ever had problems until after their two only children were taken to residential school. Can't blame his parents for developing problems seeing as two years prior his cousin had been killed in residential school in an "unfortunate accident" my ass.

    If we want to ignore the problems aboriginals face the fact that someone in Canada with a tiny fraction of aboriginal blood can claim status means aboriginals are becoming more and more diluted [and the culture lost]. I mean according to the government a 1/4 aboriginal + 1/4 aboriginal somehow makes 1/2 aboriginal [genetics, sadly, don't work that way].



    Sorry but your claim reminds me of a history book just published recently that caused a stint where slaves were called workers. Funny - workers generally get paid and have free will; neither of which applied to slaves.
     
  5. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    No one whitewashing the atrocities done by Caucasians on this continent. But nothing that the white people have done in the western hemisphere would have been possible without the catastrophic spread of disease. This spread couldn't have been stopped, couldn't have been accounted for, and was inevitable. And it has done far more harm to native peoples than the schools, the reservations, or the American determination not to give a fuck.
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    The disease may have helped, but we're kidding ourselves if we say that the white folks (specifically white Americans as you are now addressing) didn't do most of the damage. Custer? The forced march that became the Trail of Tears? The schools and reservations? Guess who did all that?
     
  7. Aire
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    Aire Banned Sock-Puppet

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    But you are whitewashing.

    You are saying disease is the worst of the worst that whites ever did. And as such nothing else that whites did can compare.

    If we want to merely look at history - original contact / settlement - according to your whitewashing the guns, cannons, war ships, advanced equipment, nasty dog breeds, the horses for ease of transport, etc., etc., etc., etc. that whites brought to the North Americas did absolutely nothing to see to the destruction of countless aboriginals.

    On that note, I am pretty sure disease had nothing to do with the near extinction of bison at the white man's hand.


    As Link mentioned whites had a blatant hand in it - Custer is but one person. I mean whites were pretty happy to just let Sitting Bull and his entire tribe starve to death... and that was but one tribe they did that to.
     
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  8. NigeTheHat
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    No he isn't.

    He's saying that without the epidemics imported from the Old World, all the shitty stuff that did happen wouldn't have happened the same way - and even if the settlers had wanted to stop those epidemics (which they didn't, because hey, free land) they couldn't have done so.

    You can argue that if those epidemics hadn't happened the settlers would have just done all the same stuff to a larger number of people, if you like. But it's not like Jack's arguing they did nothing except happen to be disease vectors.

    Case in point:

     
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  9. Link the Writer
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    So what's his point? The Natives were fucked the moment the first Europeans arrived no matter what happened? And just how were they to stop the epidemics they had no idea were happening? Remember, this was an age before the modern ideas of medicine were developed. It would never have even occurred to them that they carried diseases that, to them were harmless, brought about the apocalypse to the Natives who weren't immune to it. They were more, "Hey, free land! Gimmie!"
     
  10. Aire
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    Aire Banned Sock-Puppet

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    Are you trying to tell me a white man mounted on a Horse with a Musket even would be as limited in combat as a aboriginal on Foot with a Bow & Arrow? That's like saying it wasn't the heavily armoured knight's fault that the "soldier" armed with a farmer's rake [as was often the case of the smaller armies and rebels in ancient history] happened to get in his way.

    I'm sorry to say but the argument is ... rather funny.


    I mean forgetting disease for a moment whites were better prepared, better supplied, and better really to deal with conflict & war that rose between them and aboriginals.

    Really - a gun versus a stone tipped arrow. If you aren't aware, the muskets used by the first conquerors fire bullets quite a distance - 240 to 360 yards - the problem with them was their accuracy. They'd easily surpass an arrow for long distance [old bows have been tested, 120 yards or a bit more] - so that means the closer the aboriginal has to get to retaliate the more likeliness the bullets will hit them.


    If you put 200 whites armed with all their advanced "toys" against 200 aboriginals with their stone tipped weapons in a pit and waited for the last man standing - 99.9% of the time it'd be the whites. In fact they'd may loss a handful of men while the aboriginals would be a different story.
     
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  11. Aire
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    I think they're just attempting to whitewash. I mentioned in my initial post about a history book that has been recently published calling slaves workers. It's the same sort of mindset. Whites had nothing to do with it. There were no slaves - they were workers... I mean the word worker implies that the Africans came over of their own free will and maybe were even paid.

    Here whites had nothing to do with it, it was disease. Despite how disease would have played little roll in the reservations and the suffering aboriginals underwent in later years when disease was no longer as critical to aboriginals.
     
  12. NigeTheHat
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    That's how I interpreted his post, yes. He said the whites were absolute shits, but the reason they were able to be absolute shits was because the native population had been devastated by the diseases that came over with them. I can see absolutely nothing in his post that implies it wasn't the whites' fault or that they didn't do hideous things. I can't even see anything that implies they wouldn't have tried to do the same things had the epidemics not happened. Just they wouldn't have had as easy a time of it.

    I'm not saying there's no argument to be had here - I don't know enough about the period to comment on the claims about how much difference the epidemics made - just that you two seem to be arguing against something he never said.

    I'm trying to tell you that I think you interpreted Jack's post wrong. But you take it how you like.
     
  13. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Link the Writer there is no 'may' about it. Disease was absolutely catastrophic. It killed as much as 90% of the people living in here when Europeans arrived. The populations were substantially higher than what kids of my generation were taught in schools.
     
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  14. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    @Aire there weren't enough Europeans here initially to do the job. The whole situation is a lot more complex than you make it out, and you seem to take a view of natives the casts them as little better than savages. They weren't. Europeans had better arms, but native politics came into play, disease hit them hard, cultural aspects of their civilization had impacts, and Europeans made alliances with native factions for help. When Cortez marched on Tenochtitlan with his few hundred men, he had tens of thousands of natives with him to fight the Aztec. If it wasn't for the latter, as well as intelligence from native allies, the Aztec would have wiped Cortez and his men out.
     
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  15. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Basically yes. And it didn't matter who the Europeans were, or why they came over. One way or another the new world was going to get exposed to European diseases. The technology to fight those diseases relied on commodities (like rubber) that could only be found in the new world.
    The trail of tears killed around 4,000 Cherokee, Choctaw, and Chickasaw. The Sand Creek massacre killed about 200 Sioux. The hunt for Geronimo about a hundred Apache. Skirmishes in Comancheria maybe 200-300 over a period of forty years.

    Small pox killed around 6.3 million. Influenza (the common fucking flu) around 3 million. Bubonic plague, no real numbers, but around 2 and 3 million. The native population was around 18 million people, again that 90% thing, means 16.2 million dead from disease. The numbers are absolutely staggering. That's the real take away here.
     
  16. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    That's actually very interesting, because in the case of the bison history is kind of against you. In the early years of white settlement, when the First Nations first had guns and horses they were taking down 5-6 bison per Indian, per year. By the time the Industrial Revolution really got going they were looking at 45 bison, per Indian, per year. Buffalo leather was highly prized for use in industrial belts. It's actually a trifecta between white traders, the US Army and the plains Indians.
     
  17. Aire
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    Steerpike - kindly don't generalize. Cause this comment is just insulting - view of natives the casts them as little better than savages. I've known aboriginals since before I could walk, or did you miss the part about my uncle and the torture he underwent at the hands of white-run residential schools. He's but one of many. Personally between the aboriginals I know, who are very traditional, and my piggish white neighbors [who have no culture and little to no respect for themselves, nature, or others] I'd take those "savages" hands down.

    As it is yes Europeans made alliances with aboriginals, if you know history as well you'd know they also did so with Africans. The Zulu quite happily hunted down other tribe's members and sold them to whites as slaves - they also made other tribe's people their own slaves; just as how aboriginals made other aboriginals slaves. Whites also made other whites slaves - Irish were both serfs & slaves which were taken to the New World for example.


    If sheer number - as you indicate with the Aztecs - would have turned the tide than why in prior historical events have sheer massive armies of literal rabble [farmers, peasants, etc. "kidnapped" and taken along to be whipped into a frenzy] not rung roughshod over armed trained armies. Because it is impossible. You can chuck a million people at a fortress but if all they have to "chip away" at the stone is pitch forks, they'd be at it until their great-great grandchild are ancient.

    It is the utter David and Goliath story. A million Aztecs against Cortez's army, the Aztecs wouldn't have walked away without feeling a heck of a lot of hurt. ... You obviously think after Cortez no one else would have come. Quite wrong - with the Aztecs suffering because of the fight against Cortez they'd have been easy sport for their neighbors. A power flux like that would have had the aboriginals fighting amongst themselves for a while making them weak amongst any would new invaders - without disease.

    Now from a historical standpoint the only reason why Cortez had allies amongst the aboriginal tribes is because the Aztecs were jerks - plain and simple. They had dominated opposing tribes, they often imprisoned many other tribe's people whom they quite happily sacrificed [there's a story they sacrificed nearly 100,000 prisoners in 4 days ... doesn't exactly put you in good standing with your neighbors], and that's of course not including the fact that the Aztecs flaunted their wealth and goods.

    If the Aztecs had been more... civil... to their neighboring tribes there's a very good chance that Cortez wouldn't have had any assistance.



    You are missing the point though.

    Did disease cause the Trail of Tears? Did disease make reservations? Did the disease let tribes starve to death because they wouldn't "obey"? Did disease create residential schools? Did disease remove the "protection" of aboriginal status as the white governments tried in the 60s - Canada and the White Paper [US tried it in other ways]? Does disease make aboriginals drunk? Does disease have many people think of aboriginals as "scum" and "useless"? Does disease drag aboriginals out to the sticks and let them freeze to death [as many Canadian police in the Prairies have been charged on doing]? Does disease shuffle off the disappearance and murder of aboriginals to the dark bowels of police headquarters - Pickton anyone, and he is but a handful of similar disappearing acts - written off as a "who cares"?

    That'd be a resounding no.


    See what I don't get is somehow you guys think that if disease hadn't played a factor it'd be a completely different ball game. Yes the "innings" would have gone on for longer, by maybe a few decades, but in the long run the end result would have been the same.


    I mean just look at tribal dynamics as I mentioned above.

    Aztecs defeat Cortez - they'd obviously be weakened
    Weakened Aztecs - prey for their neighboring tribes who they have alienated for god knows how long
    In fighting amongst the other tribes once the Aztecs are removed / or put in a lower status
    Another invading force arrives
    There's no one with the sheer might of the Aztecs to intervene because the tribes are too busy making & breaking alliances to take the Aztecs former place.[/user]
     
  18. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    The point is actually yours to miss. Did the Trail of Tears kill 16.2 million natives? Did reservations? Did starvation? Did residential schools? Did drunkenness?

    You are fighting against points that no one has made, while you list things that had, at best, a casualty rate in the upper hundred thousands.
     
  19. Lewdog
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    So basically whether the European countries had come to the America's, or if the Native Americans had found a way to Europe, they would have gotten and brought back diseases that would have wiped them out. It is pretty much a catch 22. Funny that you can probably blame the poor health conditions in Europe due to poor sanitation building up their immune systems, compared to the clean living of the Native Americans. Funny how that works huh?
     
  20. Jack Asher
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    One theory is our living conditions next to domesticated animals exposed us to more diseases. Apparently wallowing in pig shit for a couple of centuries does wonders for a collective immune system.
     
  21. Aire
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    Really? Yes Europeans with their medicine and doctors suffer where aboriginals without their traditional medicine - many of the plants were destroyed by settlement or animals [cattle, horses, sheep] - and with many of their doctors [medicine men] dead. Such an equal comparison :p - pretty sure there'd be more closeness in comparing an apple to an orange than that comparable.
     
  22. Aire
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    Interesting - seeing as the aboriginal numbers per contact have never being verified. I mean it ranges from 10 to 100 million - not very accurate is it? If there were 100 million and disease killed off 16.2 million that'd put a heck of a lot of death on guess... white shoulders.

    If you want to go off of quoiting obtuse stats I can do the same. Did the Nazis kill off 10,000,000 Asians. Did the Nazis kill as many million Russians, if not more. Did they torture & experiment on nearly 5,000,000 Poles, Ukrainines and "Gyspy scum". How about the over 200,000 Africans / African descended men they sterilized without anesthetic. I bet you think they just killed Jews.


    But Jack you are missing the point and it's blatantly obvious you're just whitewashing. Disease was a turning point - however without disease the end result of what became of the aboriginals wouldn't have changed. It would have taken longer - certainly - and some tribes may never have met the fate they did [reservations]... however, it was indeed inevitable. And it was indeed whites' fault.

    It was a well known fact that whites rarely upheld their part of the bargain with many tribes & tribal alliances. The fighting between settlers - French / British, British / American - that employed aboriginals as help oftentimes backtracked on the agreement when all was said and done. Sir Douglas - made infamous with the Douglas Treaties - is a prime example of the white's "backstabbing" nature when it came to the uneducated "savages". And though partially fictional the movie Geronimo likewise portrays that little aspect of white-aboriginal interactions quite well. Wild Bill Hancock would be another example. Would you like a list by chance?


    Forgoing white's backstabbing - there's also the fact that aboriginals suffered as whites started taking over gaming sites, making settlements, etc. and as such driving the aboriginals further and further out of their traditional areas - just as they did with the wild predators. Known fact that most of the reserves are made on the aboriginals "last stand" - as in there was no where else to push them. Aside from being well known in the US - the same exact starvation, etc. was suffered by the aboriginal people of Australia.

    Aside from that it is a well studied fact that most of the traditional medicine used by aboriginals in the US was destroyed by settlement - and if not by the gigantic herds of cattle, horses and sheep brought into the US. If you have no medicine to use - even for ourselves nowadays - you don't get better, you die.


    Further to that you're under the impression disease struck all of the US - all at the same time - and poof, no more aboriginals. Hardly. The potential death toll was 90% in the HARDEST hit areas - that wouldn't be the entire north Americas. As aboriginals fled the Europeans they would have carried disease / diseased items with them. Like how we develop a tolerance to colds - these less extreme introductions of European disease by fleeing aboriginals would have built a tolerance in other tribes.

    Because if 90% of aboriginals - all across the US - died out with disease at its introductory stage... we'd not have aboriginals today. Given the fact that the same diseases killed maybe 50 - 70% of the Australian aboriginals - and which is coming to light that most likely smallpox was used as a sort of biological warfare in Australia- in a smaller isolated population with utterly no means of escape - means the North American death toll is most likely greatly exaggerated.


    And maybe it is because it'd be anti-white that the blatant passing around of diseased items by whites to aboriginals has been well documented. William Trent's diary is but one of the best known articles where whites are proud of that. Essentially as like the growing belief in Australia that whites used biological warfare.


    Ps. The Spanish also did quite well not due to simple disease but because their cattle & horses polluted the drinking water of the aboriginals. If it was intended to do so or not is something to guess at.

    Or
     
  23. Link the Writer
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    Folks, just because a disease wipes out 90% of a population doesn't excuse the settlers who then move in to properly fuck up the lives of the 10% that survived. It also doesn't make it OK. Just an FYI.

    Were the Natives screwed ten ways to Sunday no matter what? Sure, sure, but we are absolutely deluding ourselves if we think that white settlers didn't then go in and mop up whoever didn't die of the diseases.
     
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  24. Jack Asher
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    Again, you are fighting an allegation that was never made.
     
  25. Steerpike
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    People don't often understand what the new world population numbers were likely to have been prior to contact. Low numbers are still taught, by and large, but these figures are continually revised upward with new archaeology. Estimates for the hemisphere go from 10 million (which is likely quite low) to 100 million, which seems to me probably high. Just for modern-day Mexico, analysis of Aztec and Spanish tribute rolls yields projections of around 25 million as a pre-contact number (much more than you'd have heard about 30 or 40 years ago). 5 to 6 million for current U.S./Canada isn't uncommon.

    The valley of Mexico was hit by at least twenty-eight diseases epidemics, cutting the population in half from the fifty years from 1519 (when Cortes invades) , and then in half again from roughly 1570 to 1585 (see, for example, William Brandon, The Rise of Fall of the North American Indian, which includes citations to sources).

    As for Cortez and the Aztecs, it is unlikely he would have succeeded without native help - he had a lot of it. And he wasn't the one defending a position, he was laying siege to Tenochtitlan. Time and again, the Spanish won with the help of native allies. It's true that the natives were vastly outmatched in terms of weapons and tactics, but they had numbers. You can actually looks at examples of what happened to Spanish expeditions that didn't have native support - it often didn't go so well. There were, for example, at least two formal expeditions into Panama where the Spanish went on their own, without native allies, and in both cases it was disastrous for the Spanish. Hundreds of Spanish soldiers died.

    For further reading on the population and disease topics, you can look, for example, at Denevan, "The Pristine Myth: The Landscape in the Americas in 1492," Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Vol. 82, Issue 3 (1992). And that 1992 date is relatively old in terms of new archaeology in this area. Denevan discusses large new world populations, the sizable impact new world native made on their environment, including geologic and flora and fauna, and also the depopulation of natives by Old World diseases. You can see the abstract online, and he notes that the new world may well have had more of a human presence in 1492 than in 1750.

    Population projections in places like Hispaniola are all over the board, but the Spanish report of natives on the island in 1508, which was probably low, was 60,000. Within two years it was a little over half that. There are contemporary writings by Spaniards like de las Casas talking about the devastating effect of smallpox epidemics on the native populations. The effect of smallpox was so bad in Mexico City that contemporaneous historian de Gomara, who wrote Cortes: the Life of the Conqueror by his Secretary noted in that work that they had to pull houses down all over Mexico city just to cover the corpses of those who died in the epidemic. Going again to de las Casas, again, he estimated at one point that a third of the native population where he was died in a two-year span from 1494 to 1496. There are estimates, also based at least in part on contemporaneous sources, that 1/3 to 1/2 of the Aztec population may have died in the epidemic of 1520.

    As for smallpox blankets, there's really no evidence this occurred on any kind of scale. You've got letters suggesting the idea between Bouquet and Amherst, and a guy under their command (Trent) writing in a journal indicating that it may have been tried. It's quite possible it occurred there, but there's really nothing to support other occurrences or any kind of concerted effort to try this.

    Whether or not the blankets occurred, and to what degree, the wave of diseases that spread westward went well in advance of the Europeans. Hitting western population in some cases as much as 4 decades before the Europeans actually got there in any number. It was a horrible series of epidemics that cut a swatch through new-world populations.
     
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