Pre Contact America

pre contact america



30000 - 11000 bc  migration to Americas via land bridge at Bering Straits

migrants came in small numbers so did not bring disiease, without domestic animals

1492 Columbus - San Salvador - Carribean

1497 Cabot - Newfoundland , Novia Scotia

1512 -21 Spanish explore lorida

1519 Magellan circumnavigates

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Discovery Chronology

1524 Verrazano explores Atlantic Coast

1565 St Augustine Florida founded by Spanish

1577 Drake's circumnavigation

1578 English failed colony Newfoundland

1584-87 Roanoke Colony Virginia - founded by Raleigh - failed

1589 New Mexican colony - Spanishg

1607 Jamestown

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Crosby Demographic Takeover

By 1600 feral herds of horses roam over the pampas

Honeybees = English flies an omen of the white man's approach

pathogens = Smallpox

Plantain = English mans foot = weed

In Return Canadian waterweed, grey squirrel, potatoes, tomatoes, maize and manioc

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England and Colonisation - Canny

Colonisers in Ireland were serving apprenticship for new world colonies

Propaganda campaign and use of joint stock compnaies to fund colonisation

Mission of civilising the natives

indians were and unsettled people and did not make use of the land and could be depriced of it.

Indians, Irish and black - idle, dirty, lazy, licentious

2 types of native - barbarous tyrant/cruel cannibal or a meek labourer

Idea of cultural evolution with European English Protestant as peak

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British Migration

1600 - 1660

West Indies 110k

Bermuda 4k

Chesapeake 50k

New England 25k

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Neal Salisbury

Europeans arrived not in a virgingland but one teaming with several million people

Indians are integral to the history of colonisation.

North America - Indians were not a single people but had at least 2000 cultures and languages - BERKHOFER

There was an ancient Indian history- evidence of trade and exchange 10000 years pre columbos

Complex society - commoners and elites

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Cronon and White

Fire used to shape landscape

*** agriculture

Use of wild animals > to kill an animal was to be invoved in a social relationship with that animal.  Variety of agriculture and food production not mono culture

Current estimates

N America about 10 - 12 m orig estimate 1 m

By 20th fallen to 500,000

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Calvin Martin disease, Christianity and Technology

The Micmacs - Novia Scotia

Micmacs had unique language, external trade and war with other tribes

Describe a quasi subsistence - a sensitive member of the environment who merged sympathetically with its living and non living components.

Magic and rite - beaver bones not given to dogs or dogs would lose sense of smell for beaver hunting


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Calvin Martin disease, Christianity and Technology

from at least the beginning of 16th c fishing fleets visited the cod banks - trade and transfer of disease

Disease meant Indians began to lose faith in culture of ancestors

Awed by the magic of handwriting as communication

Early years of fur trade done with fisherman

In return for furs Indians received cheap commodities, tobacco, drink, powder and shot, biscuits, beans and hunting tools + Christianity

Unrestrained slaughter of certain game, partly because of improved tools, harpoons, knives, axes iron tipped arrows

Indian turned from conservator to exploiter

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Smallpox, whooping cough, influenza, chicken pox, diptheria, scarlett fever, typhus, dysentery, cholera, measles, yellow fever

Alread had

Syphilis, hepatitis, dental caries

Known as virgin soil epidemics

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Amazonian Flood Plain

Betty Meggers

Fertility of Amazon put limitations on human growth or subsistence potential of Amazon flood plains was equivalent to Nile and Ganges

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Traditional historiography has north America with c 1 million - so virtually an untrammelled and pristine land.

Crosby, Mann, Cronon, white and others

N America with a popn of 10 - 18 million

The whole hemisphere with apopn of 80 - 145 m.  Europe at the time prob had 80m

Difficulty of verifying figures - one way nadir of native popn of 5000 in 1900 so extrapolate backwards

95% death rate = 10 m

96% death rate gives 12.5m

98% gives 25 m

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More numbers

Denevan says the high counters are winning.  So one has to accept that there was probably a degree of civilisation.

Crosby says the neolithic revolution that began in Sumeria in the old world was paralleled in the new.  A bit slower because they had no beasts of burnden so took longer to build popn density but out performed in agriculture  - potatoes, peppers and tomatoes, maize and manioc

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Mann 1491

The Indians did manage the land.   

Cronon - The Europeans first described an open landscape but it quickly filed in with forest - When Europeans moved west they were preced by 2 waves one of disease the other of ecological disturbance.  The former crested with rapidity the other took more than a century to quiet down - the Europeans far from destroying the pristine wilderness bloodily created it

Disrupted eco systems

de Soto went through South East America in ealy 1500s did not mention bison. A century later teh French encountered bison grazing.  Removal of man meant ecological change which saw bison thrived - extended their range  + Pigeons

Principal tool was fire.  First white settlers in Ohio found forests as open as English Park.  Dutch in New Amsterdam would watch burnings

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