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A large part of the current population of South America are descendants of both native Americans and Europeans. In contrast, in north America the intermingling of native Americans and Europeans was significantly less common. What are the historic reasons for this difference?

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I heard this was due to the policy of Catholic church compared to Protestants. –  Anixx Mar 16 '13 at 8:59
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North American natives weren't as conductive to mixing being largely nomadic. South American ones were a lot more setted. –  DVK Mar 16 '13 at 14:20
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An additional consideration is that North American natives look a lot less distinctive from caucasians, so any mixed offspring - especially diluted - would very likely look caucasian enough that you wouldn't know that mixing occurred. And given the historical discrimination, anyone of mixed blood who could pass for a non-native would prefer to do so, over many generations. Which means you're probably undercounting the mixing in North America. –  DVK Mar 16 '13 at 14:22
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@Anixx- there's probably some truth to that, but most likely not the way you meant. Catholics were a lot more forceful about converting South American natives to Christianity - which meant that to Catholic Caucasians, they were "religiously" valid marriageable match. The degree of conversion in North America was significantly less - due to less prozelytizing (especially via the sword) nature of Protestantism. This meant that "heathen" North American natives weren't acceptable marriage matches to Christian. Remember that racism was a lot less of a factor in that time frame compared to religion. –  DVK Mar 16 '13 at 14:25
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I suppose you could write quite a comprehensive answer based on these comments. :) –  Darek Wędrychowski Mar 16 '13 at 16:53
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2 Answers 2

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One reason was that the "Anglos" brought their own women with them. For instance, there were women passengers on the Mayflower. And twelve years after the settlement at Jamestown, there was a boatload of women (in 1619), followed by many more.

The Spaniards also had more "multicultural" dealings, as noted in the comments above. The Spanish religious ideology was one of converting the "natives," which in practice meant absorbing them into Spanish society and intermarrying with them once they converted. English society did not have similar mechanisms for absorbing children of mixed parentage. In the rare situations where Anglos produced "half breeds" with Indians, the children almost always became "Indians" rather than Anglos.

"American" men DID produce children with African slaves. But they were consigned to the lowest levels of society (until modern times), and didn't "mix" with the rest of American society. "Segregation today, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" was the North American ethos as late as the 1960s.

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Interracial marriage is not so uncommon. Probably the absence of same-race women played a role, but Portuguese were also well known to marry local wives in Africa, while British and French people usually didn't

The fact that Portuguese and Spaniards have a multirracial origin (arab, celtic, roman, goth) might also have some influence.

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Valid points. Note that Portugese intermarriage in Africa (and the resultant influx of disease-resitant genetic material) may have been one of the things that allowed them to colonize tropical Africa. The British mostly tried to stick to sub-tropical areas. –  T.E.D. Jun 3 '13 at 17:58
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protected by T.E.D. May 23 '13 at 12:15

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