Sample Essay Paper on Depopulation of Native Americans


The question whether the Europeans intentionally infected the Native Americans or not has remained unsolved. But whether the act was accidental or intentional, the fact remains that disease was truly brought to the early Native American culture because of the spread of the Europeans. Epidemic disease was the main issue that led to depopulation among the native America during the period that they had contact with the Europeans. The period between the sixteenth century and nineteenth century there were a lot of diseases that stroke the Native American population at an extensive rate. These diseases included syphilis, smallpox, measles, mumps and bubonic plague which were considered to have originated from Europe.

The plagues and the diseases could affect the Native Americans because they exhibited low immunity because these diseases had not been experienced in America. Despite the fact that the Native Americans experienced other types of sicknesses like malnutrition, anaemia, respiratory infections, plus many others before the coming of the Europeans, these other diseases were new to them. In the end, it caused a lot of mortality compared to the rate if the diseases were common to Americans. According to the report written by Governor Diego de Rebolledo in the year sixteen fifty-seven, it stated that the population of Indians had reduced because they had been whipped out by foreign sicknesses and plagues brought by the Europeans. According to scholars, the Apalachee Indians who were residing in the northern part Florida had a population ranging from twenty-five thousand to thirty thousand in the early sixteenth century. But by the end sixteenth century, the surviving population was less than eight thousand; this means that around seventy-five percent of the entire population of Northern Florida had been whipped out because of the strict disease. New Mexico’s population by the fourteenth century was estimated to be one hundred and thirty thousand and Pueblos were said to be around one hundred and ten. By the sixteenth century, New Mexico’s population had reduced to six thousand four hundred and forty, and Pueblos were eighteen only.

In the fifteenth century, the coast of Massachusetts had an estimated population above three thousand, but by mid-sixteenth century, the estimated population had reduced to three hundred and forty-eight. This pattern was not only experienced in the mentioned places, but it spread to various parts of America. For instance, it was experienced in Cuba, Chile, Mexico, plus many other parts. It is evident that the disease was able to spread so fast and caused a lot of damages because of the poor immune system of the Natives. The fact that they were unprepared for new diseases led to this damage. They had their ways of treating the diseases that they were familiar with like the use of herbal remedies, sweat boxes plus praise dances. These methods were not effective to treat these viruses that were being spread upon them by the Europeans. Because of their ignorance, they refused to apply for the Whiteman’s medicine, and by the time they were accepting the foreign remedies, it was too late to stop the demographic disaster.

In conclusion, the main factor that led to the depopulation of the Native Americans was the diseases that were brought by the Europeans from Europe. If the Native Americans could have adopted the Whiteman’s medicine early enough, their population could not have reduced to that extent. Their ignorance about these foreign diseases which their herbal remedies could not cure led to their depopulation.