Thursday, August 1, 2019

Native American populations Essay

It is estimated that there where about 10 million Naive Americans living in North America exact figures are impossible to ascertain. When colonists began keeping records, the Native American populations had been drastically reduced by war, famine, forced labor, and epidemics of diseases introduced through contact with Europeans. Evidence indicates that the first peoples to migrate into the Americas, coming from northeastern Siberia into Alaska, were carrying stone tools and other equipment typical of the middle and end of the Paleolithic period. Before Europeans arrived, the native peoples lived by hunting and fishing, although a few supplemented their diet by cultivating corn, beans, squash, and (particularly among the Ojibwe) wild rice. They also gathered strawberries, berries and nuts. In autumn, they split into small groups and moved up the streams to the forest. There they hunted beaver, caribou, moose and white-tailed deer. The basic social structure was a village of a few hundred people related by a kinship. Villages were temporary and mobile. They moved to locations of greatest natural food supply, often breaking into smaller units or recombining as the circumstances required. This custom resulted in a certain degree of cross-tribal mobility, especially in troubled times. Villages were constructed of light wigwams for portability. In the winter more solid long houses were used, in which more than one clan could reside. Food supplies were stored in more permanent, semi-subterranean buildings. They developed a gender-oriented division of labor. The women farmed and the men fished and hunted. Impact of European colonization Chicken pox and measles, though common and rarely fatal among Europeans, often proved deadly to Native Americans. Smallpox proved particularly deadly to Native American populations. Epidemics often immediately followed European exploration and sometimes destroyed entire village populations. Columbian exchange: with the meeting of two worlds, animals, insects, and plants were exchanged between two. The horse, pig, and cow were all old world animals that were introduced to Native Americans who never knew such animals. Relationship with Europeans With first contact, Native Americans and Europeans formed opinions about one another. Europeans first viewed Indians as either barbaric or noble savages—people who lived either according to no rules or to the noble rules of nature. Some Indians initially viewed Spanish colonizers as liberators from existing oppressive Native American regimes. Throughout the Americas, Spain and, later, other European powers violently took possession of Native American lands and turned them into outposts for their empires. Seeking food, furs, and hides from Native Americans, the French traded manufactured goods such as firearms, blankets, metal, and cloth. The Dutch established prominent trading centers. The English wanted to find new lands to settle and to build new lives for themselves. The Puritans had limited intentions of coexisting with Native Americans and adapting themselves to Native American ways because they intended to live according to their strict interpretations of Christian theology. They soon came into bitter conflict with Native Americans in New England. English settlers wanted more Native American land, and they often forced treaties upon starving Native American groups in exchange for European goods. Native Americans were often plunged into a state of dependency and despair because they no longer could support themselves by growing their own food.

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