Riches for Invaders; Catastrophe for Natives


The effect of contact between Indigenous People in the Americas and European invaders was astonishing. The invaders were barbarians. There really is no other word adequate to describe them. I know I never learned any of this history when I went to school as a young lad. Europeans came to bring civilization. That is what I was taught.  It took me decades to learn differently.

Alvin M. Josephy, Jr., a respected historian, was  described by the New York in 1982 as the “leading non-Indian writer about Native Americans.”

Josephy Jr. described the initial contact between New World and the Old World this way:

“Among the whites there was scarcely the blinking of an eye over the devastating impact of Europeans on an Indian world that had been millennia in the making.  During the first Centuries of contact, pandemics of small pox, measles, and other sicknesses against which the Indians had no immunity, plus the European’s acquisitive, crusading zeal and their use of superior military power were disastrous for the indigenous populations and cultures. Native populations were massacred; Indian cities and towns destroyed and abandoned to the elements; religious structures defiled and looted; political and spiritual leaders slain; confederacies, chiefdoms, and other societies ripped apart; and disoriented leaderless survivors enslaved or forced to flee and move in with other groups–or revert, as many of them did, to more primitive levels of existence, hunting or foraging again for wild foods in the wake of the collapse of their world.

It has been estimated by some demographers that by the seventeenth century, more than fifty million natives of North and South America had perished as a result of war, disease, enslavement, and the careless or deliberate brutality of Europeans–history’s greatest holocaust by far.”

Some have estimated that more than 50 million died! In any event, the Europeans made the Nazis looked like small beer.


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