For the Global Thinker

Saturday, June 26, 2010

1491: The Americas Before Columbus

An Incredibly good read!
Here's a summary...
Before Columbus, Dobyns calculated, the Western Hemisphere held ninety to 112 million people (Ten times earlier estimates). Another way of saying this is that in 1491 more people lived in the Americas than in Europe.
Mann and other anthropologists also point out that the Indians were not roving bands of hunter-gatherers, but incredibly adept farmers instead. “Every tomato in Italy, every potato in Ireland, and every hot pepper in Thailand came from this hemisphere. Worldwide, more than half the crops grown today were initially developed in the Americas. Maize, as corn is called in the rest of the world, was a triumph with global implications.
So what happened to all these Indians?
Almost all scholars now agree that disease had decimated the Indian population. To give you an example, in 1539 the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto ventured into an area around the present-day Texas-Arkansas border. There lived the Caddoan-speaking population.
The Caddoan population fell from about 200,000 to about 8,500—a drop of nearly 96 percent. In the eighteenth century the tally shrank further, to 1,400. An equivalent loss today in the population of New York City would reduce it to 56,000—not enough to fill Yankee Stadium. "That's one reason whites think of Indians as nomadic hunters," says Russell Thornton, an anthropologist at the University of California at Los Angeles. "Everything else—all the heavily populated urbanized societies—was wiped out." Lacking immunity, the Indians died by the millions, reducing their numbers to a tenth of their previous population by 1800, in the greatest demographic catastrophe in global history.

Read more here...


Here's a website for the book 1491 Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus:

Here's a link to a good map of Native language groups in North America as well...

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