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83

Europeans were introduced to at least one important disease from the Americas (syphilis), but far more Old World pathogens were introduced to the Americas than vice versa. There are several reasons for this imbalance. European agriculturalists lived in closer proximity to disease vectors than did most Native Americans. A number of important diseases ...


48

According to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, one of the first steps from a hunter-gatherer society towards civilization is agriculture. While agricultural societies appeared all over the world, the old world had a more suitable environment, especially with regards to the grains and large animals that lived there. The old world had wheat, which is ...


45

Columbus is traditionally (and indeed still) credited with the discovery of the Americas for a number of reasons, some dubious but others quite legitimate. First of all, we must qualify this discovery as discovery by Old World people. Clearly, the original "discovery" by the human species was some 40,000 years ago by the ancestors of the indigenous ...


29

Several good answers have already been suggested, but there are a few very important points that are worth mentioning: Native Americans were badly unprepared for the emergence of epidemic disease among their populations, both genetically and culturally. According to this article from 2002, there was a major genetic component to it: far less immune system ...


23

On the topic of the Aztecs, an intriguing book on this subject is Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion and Political Control, by Ross Hassig. The Aztecs were an extremely war-like civilization, that were constantly attacking and subjugating their neighbors. Interestingly, though, their style of warfare was quite different from what we are familiar with from ...


19

I'm afraid I know nothing about which pre-Columbian cultures had any metalworking, but I can answer why metallurgy was, in 1492, very rare in the Americas but widespread in Eurasia. Paraphrasing liberally from Guns, Germs and Steel, which I happen to be reading at the moment, Native American peoples were largely hunter-gatherers. Metalworking, like any ...


13

The only ones I have ever seen were referenced in the Columbian Exchange as being passed to the Old World: bejel or nonvenereal syphilis Chagas disease which is more of a parasite from Central/South America pinta which is similar to bejel and another form of syphilis Mostly the effects, if you believe Jared Diamond, came more from the crowded conditions ...


13

If you are talking about the Omelc/Aztec/Maya, at war with the Cree or Inuits, I very much doubt this ever happened, as, 1) They had no quarrel, and so, no reason to go to war. 2) They had no way of marching across the USA, according to my Google Earth measurements, the distance from New York/New Jersey to Honduras, is 4,000 km. An average human can walk 5 ...


13

Disease plays a significant role. Estimates vary wildly, but there were probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 million people living in the Americas before Columbus. The vast majority of those would have lived in the Mesoamerica and Inca areas. Europe's population at this time would have been in the vicinity of 90 million. What pretty much everyone ...


12

In 1905 there was an attempt to make an entire "colored" (iow: Native American and freed slave) state in the United States. Sadly, Congress did not go for it. Today the American Indian tribes (aka: Nations) are in fact still in existence, with their own laws and elected governments. They even occasionally have their own election contraversies. Many also ...


12

Many prominent men of science in the 19th century believed that the Indians' ancestors had always been in America. This belief draws on the theory of polygenism--that the several races had independent origins as separate species. "Scientific" polygenism also had a religious aspect called "Pre-Adamism." Polygenists/Pre-Adamists didn't need to posit ancient ...


11

Australian cultures did not have access to good starter crops. This is explored at depth in an allo-history available here: http://alternatehistory.net/discussion/showthread.php?t=110941 on the topic of what crops could have been good starter crops. Indigenous Australian cultures were highly developed, including development of aquacultural structures and ...


11

From what I've been able to dig up, the answer appears to be yes, but not as much as you'd think. It appears the Telegraph companies saw the danger every bit as clearly as you did, and actively took steps to prevent it. They made sure to meet with the chiefs through whose territory they ran lines, hired them to help construct the lines, and generally took ...


11

Depends on what you mean by advanced. If you mean in terms of metalworking, the lack of easily exploited tin deposits in the Americas means that a bronze age never took off. There was a copper-working culture surrounding the Great Lakes, and it pre-dated the chalcolithic in the old world by a few thousand years, but this lasted only as long as the accessible ...


10

This is highly speculative and subjective. After all, you put forth very valid contenders to hold the title, particularly the natives and the Vikings. But what I find most likely is that Columbus was the first to do it for profit. He (and those who paid him) were the first to capitalize on it. The Viking settlement didn't last all that long, and didn't ...


10

Here's what evidence they had: The word "Croatan" carved into a post of the fort The word "Cro" carved into a nearby tree All the houses and fortifications had been dismantled (They weren't destroyed) They didn't carve a Maltese Cross into any tree (John white instructed them to do so, if they were forced to move) Because there was no cross, John White ...


10

In theory, yes that would cover any religion. In practice, not just no but hell no. Indian cultures, of which their religious beliefs were an integral part, were considered uncivilized and inferior. In the logic of time, this naturally meant the Indian "way of life" was an active harm to the Indians, as well as a standing threat to their neighbors. As such ...


10

I think you are missing the true pattern of that map. Note that it shows a higher percentage of natives in Canada than it does in the US, and shows the same lower percentage of natives in the USA as in a geographically contiguous area of South America (1% or less). If anything, the real pattern there is that areas in the subtropics (but not subartic) have ...


10

Early post-contact beliefs contained an unhealthy dose of myths and legends, e.g. Atlantis or that Native Americans descended from the lost tribes of Israel. These were displaced as rationalism developed, but suspicion that the Old World populated the Americas grew over time (for the alternate view, that the Natives had always been in the New World, see ...


9

Reading through the available literature there appear to be three main theories for the cause of the decline (that I'd consider credible anyway): environmental degradation, warfare and disease, and climate change. Typically these are cited as a group of possibly complementary possible causes. The main idea behind the environmental degradation theory was ...


9

Hepatitis and encephalitis describe an inflammation of a specific organ (respectively the liver and the brain), not a specific virus or infectious agent, and can have multiple causes. Like many other infectious agents, the hepatitis viruses have been identified and described rather recently and early accounts are sometimes vague on the symptoms, thus making ...


9

Certainly some diseases are of New World origin. The Old World had more diseases and more deadly diseases simply because the population was much greater and in certain place more concentrated. It is likely that more New World natives were killed by disease than by violence. However, this is just as true in the Old World: many more have died of disease than ...


8

Yes, albeit in a fairly weaselly way (it was tucked into the middle of an unrelated spending bill). I'm guessing that there are legal issues here; a government-issued apology could potentially open the government up to lawsuits (which, of course, they could decline to entertain because they are the government, but that would potentially be a bad PR move). ...


8

If we look at the rest of the world, it seems city building civilizations require large population growth which is sustainable through farming. Quite simply, if you can't feed a city, the city will fail. Additionally, in colder regions people need to move to warmer regions with more food in the winter, unless they can store food in sufficient quantities to ...


8

You need to distinguish their opinion of the Spanish prior to the defeat of the Aztecs and after. When the Spanish first arrived, they had guns and horses but were small in number. The native americans had yet to suffer the full depravities of not only the Spanish but also the deadly diseases to come, and they were strong both in population numbers and in ...


8

"The Man Who Touches Deer", by Bill Heavey, Field and Stream, October 2000, p. 44. The article is an interview of naturalist author Tom Brown, Jr., who claims he was taught as a child by a Lipan Apache scout.


8

The Natives were enslaved, and for quite some time, and by 1616 there were laws in every colony which legalized the enslavement of Natives and outright referred to them as slaves. The only way they managed to get a reputation for being hard to enslave was by being enslaved. From first contact, Natives were enslaved. The enslavement of the Native Americans ...


7

The Indians of the North-East had become dependent on the Colonists for supplies of ball and powder for their newly favoured ranged weapon, the flintlock musket. Their supplies of these rarely exceeded a season's worth, and they had failed to stockpile additional reserves in preparation for the war. Although the initial onslaught had chased the Colonists ...


7

One of the main topics mentioned in Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel is that communicable diseases such as the Old World diseases (plague, smallpox, typhus, cholera and measles in particular) generally made their way to humans from close contact to domesticated animals (cattle mainly, but also pets and vermin). Almost all the large mammals of the ...


7

The railroad certainly received its share of harassment. Livestock was continuously rustled by tribal raiders, who also boldly shot up work crews and terrorized isolated station towns. Particularly vulnerable were route surveyors, who struck out on their own ahead of the work crews -- and sometimes paid for it with their lives. Twice, Native Americans ...



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