European Impact on Native Americans
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.
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