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RIGHTING THE WRONGS .. can history be rewritten ?

Updated: Nov 9, 2023


Viewing the scene from America and savoring the living standards of a country with 8th highest per capita income in the world (2022 - but highest among countries of similar size), it's always a bit painful to visit the past. But revisit we must to count the human cost of one of the largest depopulation scenarios in the world with some estimates evaluating the decline to 95% or more. From a pre-contact population variously estimated at between one and ten million, the American Indian population in the coterminous United States declined to approximately 600,000 in 1800—when estimates become more reliable—and continued its rapid decline in the nineteenth century, reaching a nadir of 237,000 in the decade 1890-1900 before recovering later.


Of course, the decline appears to be equally due to new diseases brought in by the settlers, who did not have immunity to the diseases in the new world. For instance, in Mexico between 1522 & 1800, the native Indian population there also declined from 22 million to 2 million, mainly due to the wave of new diseases like Smallpox 8 million deaths & Cocoliztli epidemics accounting for 12 million deaths.


Using the references of several researchers between 1924 & 2005, it could be be concluded that the pre Columbian population of approx. 40 million seem to have been largely decimated due to a variety of factors like Eurasian diseases such as influenza, pneumonic plagues, and smallpox, in combination with conflict, forced removal, enslavement, imprisonment and outright warfare with European newcomers which reduced populations and disrupted traditional societies.


The damage to the collective conscience of mankind has been colossal and though Indians helped colonial settlers survive in the New World, helped Americans gain their independence and ceded vast amounts of land and resources to pioneers, the loss of lives due to the internecine conflict together with war, disease and famine meant that the Indian way of life was almost completely destroyed.


Acknowledgement, restitution & compensation have been late in coming. On 8th September 2000, the head of the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) formally apologized for the agency's participation in the ethnic cleansing of Western tribes. In a speech before representatives of Native American peoples in June 2019, California governor Gavin Newsom apologized for the "California Genocide."


Newsom said, "That's what it was, a genocide. No other way to describe it. And that's the way it needs to be described in the history books. " In 1993, the U.S. Congress devoted an entire resolution to apologizing to Native Hawaiians for overthrowing their kingdom in 1893. But a U.S. apology to Indigenous tribes took until 2009 and came stealthily tucked away in an unrelated spending bill.



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