Wednesday, June 01, 2011

The thing about Native Americans in North America supposedly being wiped out by plagues...

Which in otherwise wonderful books like '1491' gets a lot of play, is that somehow Native Americans survived in great numbers in Mexico, Central America, and South America, not to mention the U.S. Southwest that was part of Mexico. Surely, these peoples too were decimated by the new diseases brought by Europeans, but they survived nonetheless. The same cannot be said for Native tribes in the United States. Why is it that in Arizona and New Mexico there are large, surviving, Native groups, but several hundred miles west in California there are barely any? Or in the South and the Midwest? Surely immunity is not so different in these different areas. Perhaps the difference comes from systematic persecution and murder, as well as racial taboos against intermarriage.

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