August 26, 2009 at 1:23 am (By Rodjean)

I just read a book entitled “1941,” which was published in 2006 by a science writer named Charles Mann. The book cites a growing number of anthropologists and archeologists who believe that the New World was substantially more heavily populated before Columbus arrived, and that the die-off from European diseases to which native Americans had no defense was faster and more complete than previously believed, such that many areas were largely depopulated between the time of the first explorers and traders, and the first settlers. Included as evidence are reports of previously undiscovered cities in Mesoamerica and South America, and many citations to early explorers who reported large populations living in areas which were far less populated a few decades later.

I can’t do the book justice in a short post. Can the great herds of buffalo first seen on the plains by explorers be an aberration, caused by the disappearance of so many of their most feared predators – the Plains Indians? If so, we have to question the image of the Native Americans as having only a little impact on the environment. What we thought was a natural ecological balance and environment was just another version of an environment greatly affected by mankind.

1 Comment

  1. Donna B. said,

    That sounds like a good read, and perhaps a continuation of what I read years ago in “The Columbian Exchange”.

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