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Geography Doomed Native Americans


Native Americans have had a pretty bad run for the past 500 years. From being rulers of two entire continents, in just several decades they were more or less wiped out. But what happened; did geography doomed native Americans?

Well, the short answer is yes, and this is how. Ever since the Europeans first arrived on the shores of the Americas at the end of the 15th century, native Americans had to deal with colonization, smallpox and depopulation on a scale never seen before in the entire world.

photo: travel-studies.com
photo: travel-studies.com

Now, even if the Europeans are to blame for the natives’ submission, what really brought them down was disease. Smallpox was what really killed the Americans. These diseases, which the Europeans were immune to, all but wiped out the entire native population. By the time the first English colonies were being built in North America, more than 90% of the indigenous population was dead from smallpox.

This was a direct cause of isolation the two American continents were in, as compared to the rest of the world. This is also the reason why the Europeans were more technologically evolved than the indigenous population.

Very rarely technology evolves by itself. Only through trade and necessity does it expand and grow. While the Eurasian continent was in a constant development, the Europeans were far better equipped for war that the Indians were. With gunpowder from China and battle armor from the Parthians, they could easily defeat the severely weakened and disease ridden natives.

photo: lasalle.edu
photo: lasalle.edu

Another reason why geography played such an important role in the downfall of the Americas was the lack of viable livestock. While Europe and Asia were blessed with animals that could be easily tamed (eg. cattle, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens and horses), the Americas had none. Besides being an important source of meat and milk, animal husbandry also helped a great deal in agriculture, construction and warfare. After all, the horse was the most feared war machine for thousands of years!


The only tamable animal in the Americas was the Llama on the South continent which couldn’t even carry more than 100 pounds. It was mostly good for the wool it produced. This left the Americans in a tremendous disadvantage and many populations were still living a hunter-gatherer lifestyle by the time the Europeans arrived. The same problem was with Sub-Saharan Africa, where no viable animals ware good for domestication.

These two reasons were the main cause for why the native Americans were so behind in terms of technology when they came face to face with their distant cousins from the Old World. Isolation and lack of prime livestock doomed the Americans ever since they crossed the Bering Strait 15,000 years ago.

photo: http://users.humboldt.edu/
photo: http://users.humboldt.edu/

Written by Gipsy Ninja

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Co-founder @gipsy_ninja