European Contact

I know this isn’t fully on just one site but I think it is important to see how the plains and it’s people were affected by contact from Europe and its settlers. So this is encompassing the time from 1540 to 1860 AD. When they came they brought themselves over they brought with them European technology. Along with that change the Native American peoples switched from using dogs to carry supplies and such, they switched to horses.

With the bringing of horses it allowed them to acquire more food, have more ability to move, and military and economic gain (having control over the herds meant more wealth). Not all the changes were good though. As people move from place to place massive depopulation takes place. On the census of 1990 it shows that there were 515,000 Native Americans, when before there were estimated to be around 2.4 to 4.4 million people. Percentage wise that means that there was a decrease of 75% to 90% in the population. How crazy is that.

So not only that but deadly diseases were brought over too. Here are some of the diseases that were running rampant through the great plains: Smallpox, Measles – 1530s Mesoamerica, Influenza – 1559 Southeast US, Bubonic Plague – 1545 Mesoamerica, Diphtheria – 1601 Mesoamerica, Typhus – 1586  Eastern Tidewater, Cholera – 1832 Midwest and Plains, Chicken Pox, Yellow Fever, Scarlet Fever, Whooping Cough. That is a lot of sickness and death going on. A couple reasons they were so susceptible to this is because there were just so many people and they had started to domesticate animals as well.

There was also a disruption of Native lifeways, loss of languages and cultures, new identities forming, groups coalescing, changes in architecture, settlements. The colonizers not only did this here they also did it in other countries too.

The Great Plains Native Americans had Traditional Cultural Properties, which includes: places held in high regard by Indigenous groups, may or may not have physical remains (artifacts), passed down through oral tradition, special sorts of places, springs, buttes, caves, etc., can be protected under Federal law. It would be great if the Great Plains could have its story told in not just a classroom setting, so we could protect the cultures and ways of life with laws and other such things.

Here are a couple of sites even just in Colorado: Council Tree(near Timnath) and Valmont Butte(near Boulder). So all of this came from my professor Dr. Jason La Belle. It is just interesting to see how people are affected when outsiders come and why it is also just really important to have the knowledge about the past so we can learn from it.

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