One thing the Spanish excelled at, in Latin America, was swelling their fighting ranks with locals by figuring out how to use the different tribes’ animosities against each other.
A practice they shared with the French/British/Americans in the north.
And @chgoliz, indeed! But I’m sort of trying to dispel the image of most Native People just sort of disappearing and being easily mowed over by European might - who by the way, were desperately looking to reintroduce the flow of goods that had been coming from the East, which the Ottomans interrupted by daring to basically conquer the Balkans and the Middle East by the early 16th century.
But in the New World, there was a great deal more negotiation with Native peoples that had to happen, at least in North America, than many people realize. It wasn’t the steamroller of technological might that most people imagine. And sometimes that colonial administrators would side with Natives over the colonists.
And again and again and again…
Or not. Turns out if you just ignore that law, you can squat for generations then cry victim when the natives try to get the treaty they should have been given in the first place. Ask me about my province and the term “unceded territory.”
“Racially tinged” is the new euphemism for racism?
Germ warfare was a result of geographical circumstance and migration patterns as they led to earlier animal husbandry in Europe which in turn led to development of immunities against germs that later-to-be-colonised populations had no defence against.
My problem is when people look at people in the past as having literally no agency, in terms of the choices they make. While geographic circumstances play in a role (or as Marx would have it, mean that people who do make history, don’t make it in circumstances they entirely control), people still do make choices that have consequences. Arriving on a new spot of land and immediately decided to rape and pillage was a choice that Columbus and the later conquistadors made (and the Spanish and portugese governments in their competition backed with support from Rome). PEOPLE made choices that we must attend to when discussing what happened in the new world. They made choices when they saw people dying of diseases they had no immunity to. They made choices when they enslaved, rapes, and tried to convert the survivors. THAT is history. It’s not just some static thing that was ordained to happen. It was choices people made in circumstances they found themselves in.
Yeah, “germ warfare” is a bit inaccurate, in that even if by some unimaginable miracle the Eurasians contacting the New World had been entirely peaceful, fair and not inclined to conquest and pillage, the natives would still have been massively and thoroughly screwed.
There was also a significant amount of intentional germ warfare though.
Indeed. Once Europeans figured out what was happening, they at times moved to weaponized that when it came to conflict with Native Americans.
The whole “passive” narrative of history really bugs me…
I too, had that misconception. But it turns out that much like a modern understanding of nanomaterials was not necessary to make certain kinds of stained glass, a modern understanding of germ theory was never necessary for people to realize that they could kill indigenous people with smallpox.
Here’s the question that keeps me up at night: What have people weaponized now that we still don’t have a sophisticated understanding of, yet?
True, but even if I’m no historian, in the grand scheme of things doesn’t history teach us that people as a whole will always make awful, cruel choices? If given the opportunity, people will choose to opress and exploit the weak, especially if there is no system in place to hold them accountable for such behaviour, much less one that doesn’t implicitly encourage it. It happened throughout history and it’s happening today, all over the world.
I suppose if you’re a fan of the traditional “the only real history is war and diplomacy and nation-states” history. Other wise, not always no. There are plenty of cases of even groups of people making positive choices when given the opportunities to do so.
Or we can attend to the fact that we have choices and push for positive ones. History doesn’t exist outside of human agency and once we realize that, we see that we can make better choices in the future.
They knowingly gifted or even sold smallpox infested blankets to the natives.
That’s why I wrote in the grand scheme of things. Of course there are exceptions, and plenty of them but they are massiveky outweighed by the rest. The larger the group, the less likely it will make morally sound decisions.
I always do, but I have little optimism for us as a species.
The last time I traveled in time, I returned to a world where we elected a reality show host as president, Jeff Probst. Luckily I went to the past and fixed things for the better…
I have to go back again, don’t I?