Pox Americana

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“Pox Americana” – Infectious Disease and the Decline of Native Populations

I. American as Virgin Soil
a. The origins of common “childhood diseases” in the Old World i. “density dependent” = diseases of high-population areas- first cities got the first diseases ii. The role of livestock

-eating and drinking the milk of live stock supplied Europe with a lot of diseases iii. Lifetime immunity as a result of exposure
b. The North American “Quarantine” and Native epidemiology i. Arrival before civilization, domestication
ii. Few large Indian cities to generate indigenous density-dependent diseases, and few domesticated animals iii. Result = potential for havoc is high should new diseases be introduced II. The Consequences of Virgin-Soil Epidemics

a. Death spreads into the North American interior
i. Simultaneous illness in whole villages, multiple simultaneous illnesses, waves of epidemics, etc. b. The Aztec and Inca examples
c. The Iroquois (Mohawk) and Algonquin
i. Overhunting as “revenge” on the beaver? (theory) -all nature has spiritual power; animal spirits very powerful; believed small pox came because they made Gods mad; Indians thought beavers declared war on them so they tried to hunt them until extinction ii. Warfare

1. maintaining the “spiritual balance” 2. “replacing” dead members
3. result of epidemics=increased raiding of enemies d. Not total destruction
i. Paul Kelton and the “Four Nations’” response in the South III. European response: epidemics as the Hand of God
IV. The Columbian Exchange
a. The “biological consequences” of 1492: disease and new crops/animals i. From Old World to New: disease, wheat, barley, rye,...
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