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Native American History & Literature

We really know far too little about Native Americans. In school, history books indicate that when Columbus set foot in America, this was a barren unexplored land with just a few savages running around that he called "Indians" because he thought that was where he arrived. But, as Ward Churchill is quick to point out, "North America was long-since endowed with an abundant and exceedingly complex cluster of civilizations" (Churchill 157). The article is very enlightening because it shows the Native Americans in a way most of us never thought about. Frankly, most of what the average American knows about so-called "Indians" is from Western movies, where they are usually out to kill and burn the white men and their property.

Actually, "the traditional economies of the continent were primarily agricultural based in environmentally sound farming proceduresa.War at least in the Euro-derived sense in which the term is understood today, was virtually un known" (Churchill 157).

There was something the "discoverers of North America" brought that was even worse than war. Disease. The Native Americans were not immune to the various strains of disease, and it killed many of them. "Between 1520 and 1890, no fewer than 41 smallpox epidemics and pandemics were induced among North American Indians. To this must be added dozens of lethal outbreaks of measles, whooping cough, tuberculosis, bubonic plague, typhus, cholera, diphtheria, scarlet fever, pleurisy, mumps, venereal disease, and the common cold" ((Churchill 158). In fact, disease brought by the Europeans brought some tribes to complete extinction, and decimated many others. As Churchill (158) points out, the Native Americans even fought a war because of their belief that smallpox and other diseases were deliberate inflicted on them by the white man. Of course, there were wars in which Native Americans were the object of domination. The French and Indian wars, for example, were fo...

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Native American History & Literature. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:49, May 22, 2019, from