Americ The Columbian Exchange

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During the early 16th century, physical encounters between europeans and natives of the American continents resulted in a vast diffusion of food, livestock, technology, and diseases. This later became known as the Columbian Exchange. Two of the most influential things to be traded between the groups was horses, used for hunting and agricultural improvement, and diseases, such as smallpox, measles, yellow fever, typhus, and malaria. Diseases depleted many Native American populations, destroyed American Indian societies , and allowed europeans to conquer indigenous land much more easily and change its demographics. Horses, on the other hand, were a valuable asset to the Native Americans because it gave them a new source of transportation,…show more content…
As Tindall and Shi put it, “ tribal cohesion and cultural life disintegrated, and efforts to resist European assaults collapsed” (15). The Spanish and Portuguese immediately began to enslave the surviving Indians and put them to work in mines and on sugar plantations under a system they called the, “encomienda system”. Many of the elite American Indians who survived disease did not fare any better, as their legitimacy as chiefs and religious leaders was stripped away from them. This system was meant to colonize, subjugate, and forcefully assimilate the Native Americans to cruel and harmful condition, all in the name of profit (Parker 54). Soon, however, the European empires faced a problem regarding the low amount of laborers due mainly to the smallpox epidemic. This caused the Spanish and Portuguese empires to switch from American Indian labor, to African slave labor. Bringing the African slaves to the Western hemisphere began a long history of bondage that would continue in the American continents until Brazil finally abolished slavery in 1888. To add to all of that, the African slaves brought their own diseases that not even the white europeans were immune to such as, malaria, yellow fever, and cholera among others. The diminution of American Indian populations continued even after the fall of the Incan and Aztec empires. As the
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