Native American 1491 Summary

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“1491” Questions 1. Two scholars, Erikson and William Balée believe that almost all aspects of Native American life have been perceived wrong. Although some refuse to believe this, it has been proven to be the truth. Throughout Charles C. Mann’s article from The Atlantic, “1491”, he discusses three main points: how many things that are viewed as facts about the natives are actually not true, the dispute between the high and low counters, and the importance of the role disease played in the history of the Americas. When the term “Native American” is heard, the average person tends to often relate that to a savage hunter who tries to minimize their impact on their surrounding environment. For the most part, this is not the case. In reality,…show more content…
In, The Earth Shall Weep, by James Wilson, the western hemisphere is described as “larger, richer, and more populous than Europe.” Many of the advancements and cities of the Americas stunned the Europeans. For instance, the conquistadors were amazed at how the streets were not covered in garbage and sewage. Accomplishments like those have been proven, unlike however, the size of the population in 1491. This topic has a great deal of controversy over it because there is currently no way of proving who is correct on this matter; only estimates and claims can be made. An example of this would be the differences in the claims made by Dobyn and Ubelaker. One of the most influential factors on the population size then was disease. When the Europeans came to the Americas, they also brought along many of their diseases, which although they were accustom to, posed a horrific threat to the natives. Mann’s overall thesis in “1491” was backed up with evidence from various people, statistics, his own accounts, and…show more content…
In 1910, James Mooney made the first scholarly estimate of the indigenous population. He believed that in 1491, North America had 1.15 million people living there. Given his reputation, many accepted his estimates to be facts. However, as time progressed, other estimates were made, despite Mooney’s claims. In 1966, for example, Henry F. Dobyns published “Estimating Aboriginal American Population: An Appraisal of Techniques With a New Hemispheric Estimate” in Current Anthropology. He claimed that there had to have been around 90 to 112 million natives there before Columbus; this meant that there would have been more people living in the Americas than in Europe at the time. With all of the new claims being made, many people have been choosing a side to debate over. It is the high counters verses the low counters; Dobyn’s revised figure of 18 million is debated against Douglas H. Ubelaker’s estimates of 1.8 million natives. For the time being, no definitive data exists. 3. This dispute between the high counters and the low counters displays how unless something has been historically proven, there will always be a debate over that topic. Other examples of this would be the theory of evolution, how the Earth was created, or even if the Vietnam War was necessary or not. The debate between which side is right will not stop until the actual amount of natives has been calculated with evidence and one side is proven right. This dispute illustrates how the study of history is taken
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