Some Thoughts from American Colonies

Easily the most interesting part of the American Colonies reading for me was the massive logistical problem faced by the early Americans. It is obvious that for such a primitive time food would be the driving force of most decisions, but what was not obvious for me was the differences between the regions. The strange cycle that was described of a reduction in animals leading to an increase in horticulture, the increase reliance on corn leads to bad soil after a few seasons, which leads back to roving tribes looking for animals to start the whole process over. With hunger being such a constant battle for most of that era, I can’t even imagine being a leader of a tribe attempting to scrounge together enough food to feed everyone. Then there’s the massive population explosion when they did find a reliable source of food for a time, which makes the logistics even crazier when the food runs out.

These concerns were even addressed in the “Arrow Boy” myth where a small, gifted child, brings back the buffalo for his starving people, after going through many trials. They recognized the problem with over hunting, but could do nothing about it in the real world, leading to mystical hopes and prayers to bring back their food source. The problem that really surprised me to learn about was the corn depleting the soil of nutrients. This seems like a problem that would be impossible to realize for peoples at that level of technology. It makes sense they would observe the bad yields in corn after a time, but the hidden effects that we know of now like the health issue related with corn based diets, and the soil problem, must have been incredibly difficult to cope with.

Overall, it was very useful to get a realistic depiction of the native population and general culture before the invasion begins. I had no idea how many people there were on the American continents before Columbus, and that really shines a dark light on just how massive the slaughter of people and their culture truly was.

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