I’ve been thinking a lot about the suffering inflicted on the native peoples of the Americas and how their greatest agricultural gifts became albatrosses around the neck of the colonizers. Their miracle crop corn has fattened them up while the holiest of these, tobacco burned holes in their bodies. When we failed to honor them and hold them in the same reverence they became poison. Something about that makes a lot of sense to me.
Well, they gave Europeans and the rest of the world Syphilis. So… they got that going for them…
And history would have been VERY different if the New World had HALF the domesticate-able animals the Old World had. Not only would they have had labor saving which would have advanced civilizations, but they would have had either better plague immunity, or had plagues to give the Europeans and the massive death toll due to disease would have not been one sided.
That’s actually a point of historical epidemiological debate. it’s one of those things that gets trotted out, but may not be historically accurate.
Also, have you ever read Pastwatch by Orson Scott Card? I’m not a fan of everything he sort of inherently argues in the book, but it’s an interesting look at history, time travel, and “fixed points in time.”
IIRC, Europeans were the ones who knowingly infected the indigenous people of North America with disease by giving them contaminated blankets, and the chances that syphilis existed in Europe but went undiagnosed for ages is highly likely… especially given the piss poor level of personal hygiene in the region at that time.
I thought the origins of Syphilis was more conclusive than the above post by Mindy suggests. Mae Culpa if it didn’t originate in the New Word. IIRC I got his nugget from someone citing Guns, Germs, and Steel - but I haven’t finished reading that actual book.
As for KNOWINGLY giving the Natives of the New World diseases: Early on they didn’t know how the various diseases were spread and the original interaction that is estimated to have wiped out 80-90% of the native population, just spreading how diseases do.
There is evidence of one British officer in the 1700s saying they gave a couple blankets away, and another letter of a British general musing the idea of using tainted blankets. But there is no evidence this was something done in a widespread fashion. The vast majority it is believed came into contact through “normal means”, and unfortunately with zero immunity the death tolls were incredibly high.
As I mentioned above, the New World had nearly no domesticated animals, and thus unlike Africa, Europe or Asia, they didn’t have a ton of people living near animals. Most of the plagues and epidemic diseases like Small Pox jumped from animals to humans. Thus they had more plagues and had more time to build up some immunity to them. This whole world and especially the US would look A LOT different if we just had some Cows or Oxen or Horses in the New World.
When isolated populations of humans make contact they give each other whatever diseases they don’t already have in common. It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that.
Historical accounts of germ warfare, including the whole “giving infected blankets to the Indians” thing, mostly serve to show us that germ warfare is not a particularly good idea - the spread and effect of disease is not controllable enough for military purposes.
You never wondered: “Gee, why didn’t everyone on Columbus’s ships get a New World Disease and die? Why didn’t they bring back a disease that killed off 80-90% of Europe’s population?”
And how that relates to the comment I replied to: I sorta misread at first that the albatrosses were on the COLONIZERS Neck. Because those albatrosses are also terribly affecting Native communities who have the HIGHEST tobacco use among ethnicities in the US (though it is also used in some rituals, so it has dual use), and Native Americans have over TWICE the diabetes rates of non-Hispanic whites in the US. But I also believe part of that is due to the systemic suffering and chronic poverty having a large effects on these number (though this is my speculation.) <— This part was in my head - leading me to comment on the fact that had things been different and most of them weren’t killed off by disease, they would be in a MUCH better place, and the world much different.
Yeah, so was the post I replied to. What does corn [syrup] and tobacco killing people have to do with 6 year olds bringing drugs to school? I guess I should learn by now… Well - I get to go home soon, so I’ll leave y’all to it.
Hey, don’t get all huffy with me, dude; you’re the one who’s coming off in a bad light here.
The initial comment was a venting of frustration about the current status quo in this country, where damn near every interaction is tainted by our country’s abysmal and inhumane history.
I’m not wrong for expressing my dismay that this unfortunate incident will likely have serious negative ramifications for some unlucky family of color… and others are not wrong for sympathizing with my sense of disenfranchisement and general disgust with man’s inhumanity to man.
My initial reply wasn’t to you. So while his comment may have been a reply to you, mine reply wasn’t meant to go up the chain any further than canniblepeas. Though I admit my reply was based on my reading to fast, misreading the statement, confusing pronouns, and having more than average left field reply.
I didn’t say anything meant to divert anyones’ frustration. I agree with your worry it will affect some “unlucky family of color”. I don’t think I suggested your dismay was wrong. If I did, I’m sorry.
Somehow, I don’t think many native peoples would ind that thought comforting.
I’m sure it’s not the intent of your post, but reducing the genocide of N American peoples to germs dismisses the fact that their slaughter was intentional, protracted and methodical. It spanned hundreds of years, half a dozen colonizing nations, numerous governments both remote and local as well as countless examples of direct action by individuals. Ecological destruction, whatever the word is for breaking up families to have the brown forcibly bred out of them, outright slaughter, displacement and, yes, germ warfare were all used very consciously and with intent.
Of course not - it’s tongue in cheek with a dash of gallows humor. Though wasn’t your comment similar in pointing out the irony that two of the agricultural gifts went on to lead to shortening the lives of countless immigrants? Though had I not misread your comment, I probably would have skipped that comment and point out that those “albatrosses” continue to disproportionately negatively affect Native peoples (at least in the US).
And yes, I am intimately aware of the history of the Native Americans, especially the North American after the mid 1700s, including my ancestors Navarre who were moved from the Great Lakes, to Kansas, to Oklahoma, a have seen a map that included their plot of land allotted by the government.