European Impact on Native Americans

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The arrival of Europeans on the North American continent impacted Native American indigenous people in ways that have been discussed in written material of eyewitnesses 500 years ago, as well as anthropologists and historians in recent times. The science of human evolutionary genetics has now provided confirmation that the arrival of Europeans on the North American continent catalyzed a demographic disaster for Native American indigenous peoples. New evidence indicates that although the population collapse was dramatic and severe, it did not result in the complete elimination of these populations. This new field of study, called genetic anthropology, provides a perspective on Colonial American that now requires globalized perspective, as the cultural and geographic elements of European settlement in the New World are detectable through DNA analysis for the first time.

For an estimated 15,000 years, Native American indigenous people populated the North American continent prior to the arrival of European explorers and settlers in the fifteenth century. After European arrival, Native American populations began to be negatively impacted through a number of factors. Some of these involved violence, such as warfare, and enslavement by white aggressors through a desire for a native labor force.

The other factors were passive ones, involving the lack of Native American immune system defense against the spread of epidemics of diseases carried to the New World by Europeans in the form of measles, smallpox, and influenza (Balter). These diseases, which had been common in Europe for generations, had already been encountered by the white Europeans or their ancestors. While whites had immune systems that provided some protection against the diseases, Native Americans had no prior immune system experience with them, and consequently, they died in large numbers, without the need for aggression by the Europeans in many cases.

Although some historians have speculated...
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