146 votes
Accepted

Why were Navajo code talkers used during WW2?

In WW2 we didn't have digital computers. We didn't even have transistors. Even vacuum tubes were state-of-the-art. If you wanted to do cryptography on the battlefield, you used something like this ...
user avatar
  • 52.6k
137 votes
Accepted

Why did Native Americans die from European diseases while Europeans didn't catch serious diseases from the New World?

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 ...
user avatar
  • 17.8k
54 votes

Has there ever been a major migration from the New World to the Old World? If not, why?

As DevSolar mentioned in his comment, this really depends on how you define 'major', but here are several case of migrants moving from the New to the Old World. From the Caribbean to Europe ...
user avatar
49 votes

Why were Navajo code talkers used during WW2?

"The Code Book" of Simon Singh mentions several points why code talkers where so useful. Speed: One of the colonels in charge tried exactly that: code machine against Navajo code. The Navajo was able ...
user avatar
  • 5,008
49 votes

Has there ever been a major migration from the New World to the Old World? If not, why?

Yes, there has been. As this infographic shows, there has been a back-migration of the DNA haplogroups C1a and A2a from North America (well, Beringia...) back into Asia. The infographic is sourced ...
user avatar
  • 11.4k
46 votes

Why did Native Americans die from European diseases while Europeans didn't catch serious diseases from the New World?

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 ...
user avatar
46 votes
Accepted

Why did Native Americans originally migrate to the Americas?

However, considering there was little to no knowledge of the new world I wonder why would the tribes risk to travel to far . . . it seems unreasonable [humans would] risk it to migrate towards the ...
user avatar
  • 95.8k
39 votes

Why does Latin America have a higher number of surviving Native Americans than North America?

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 ...
user avatar
  • 109k
37 votes
Accepted

Where are the Native American primary source documents?

The basic problem here is that scientific study of cultures (Sociology, Anthropology, etc.) is a relatively new discipline. There are indigenous social scientists today of course (my little sister is ...
user avatar
  • 109k
35 votes
Accepted

What describes the average pre-colonial NA Native American lifestyle (across several tribes)?

The problem here is that there was no more an average lifestyle in North America than there was in Eurasia. Some peoples were hunter-gatherers, while others lived in densely populated agricultural ...
user avatar
  • 109k
29 votes

What are the occurences of total war in the Native Americans?

SHORT ANSWER "Total War" is a bit grandiose and ambitious, but as far as I know very few Native American or American Indian groups in the USA had any sort of rules against harming noncombatants in ...
user avatar
  • 16.7k
28 votes
Accepted

Did pre-Columbian Americans know the spherical shape of the Earth?

Firstly, it is important to be aware that our understanding of the civilisations and culture of Pre-Columbian America is far from complete. Secondly, I don't propose to attempt to cover every ...
user avatar
  • 76.2k
27 votes
Accepted

Was the concept of religious freedom in the early United States applied to native American faiths?

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. ...
user avatar
  • 109k
26 votes
Accepted

What were the indigenous populations of California before American settlement began to peak?

The government has some good resources for research like this site for the Yokut tribe. This map from Berkeley, not only outlines each culture but puts them into a super class based on language.
user avatar
  • 2,315
24 votes

Has there ever been a major migration from the New World to the Old World? If not, why?

In addition to Lars Bosteen's answer about modern migration, several hundred thousand South American people have migrated to Spain in the last decades, and Brazilians have became the largest group of ...
user avatar
  • 3,306
24 votes
Accepted

Who was Chief Poking Fire?

Chief Poking Fire's main claims to fame are probably owning and running an Indian museum, and founding and running a tourist village. He also apparently presented Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie ...
user avatar
22 votes
Accepted

How densely populated were the Americas prior to European colonization?

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 ...
user avatar
  • 109k
22 votes

Why were North American indigenous peoples underdeveloped?

Why were Native Americans much more under developed then their neighbors in the south. Copyright Skubasteve834, source: Wikimedia Commons, usage via CC-BY-SA. It's not quite fair to classify native ...
user avatar
  • 2,397
20 votes
Accepted

Did any Native Americans adopt a script from Europe (before being assimilated)?

First off, yes you are wrong. Some kind of long-term record-keeping seems to be a common requirement for civilized people, so both the Maya and the Inca developed something pre-contact. I personally ...
user avatar
  • 109k
20 votes

What did indigenous North Americans trade amongst themselves before Europeans arrived?

Flint points, obsidian, buffalo hides, salt, pearls, shells and (as mentioned by T.E.D.) copper were among item traded by Native Americans before Europeans arrived. That said, trade in North America ...
user avatar
19 votes

Why were Navajo code talkers used during WW2?

Code talking in an obscure language puts two layers of encryption on the message. The first layer is that it's a language. The second is that it's a code. The code part is usually pretty simple ...
user avatar
18 votes
Accepted

Did native Mexicans prefer Spanish rulers to the Aztecs?

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 ...
user avatar
  • 5,795
18 votes

Is there a genetic link between North America and Vikings?

I am going to say Yes, to the title question, and No to the question in the body. Is there a link... There is a genetic link, but not in the direction you were expecting. An article published on ...
user avatar
  • 33.8k
17 votes

Why does Latin America have a higher number of surviving Native Americans than North America?

Apart from other reasons here exposed, I think it is worth mentioning a) some groups of South American natives were adapted (culturally, and even in some cases, physically) to environments which ...
user avatar
  • 12.1k
17 votes
Accepted

Why weren't North American Indians considered to be property yet to be acquired (slaves)?

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 ...
user avatar
17 votes

Why is the name "Tecumseh" used for US Navy ships?

While Tecumseh was an enemy of the US while alive, his name was well known. The first ship named after him was a Canonicus-class monitor during the Civil War, some 50 years after Tecumseh's death. The ...
user avatar
  • 1,916
17 votes
Accepted

Are there any hypotheses on how the Dorset people disappeared?

There are several theories of disappearance of the Dorset people. Two are discussed in the article "Disappearance of Dorset Culture" published on the webpage of the Canadian Museum of History: ...
user avatar
  • 6,010
15 votes

Is this accusation in the Declaration of Independence factual?

I doubt the quoted indictment is about the Royal Proclamation of 1763 (that forbade settlement beyond the Appalachian Mountains). I think the quotation refers to the contemporary state of affairs ...
user avatar
  • 6,074
15 votes

Before the Land Bridge Theory, how was human presence in the Americas explained?

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 ...
user avatar
  • 17.8k
15 votes
Accepted

Why have population maps indicated a stark divide in population density of the United States on either side ot the 100th Meridian?

The answer is related to the map you posted about rainfall. The population of the eastern third of the continental US is denser because of settlement patterns that reflect the local availability of ...
user avatar
  • 27.3k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible