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how many american indians died

how many american indians died

how many american indians died

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how many american indians died
how many american indians died


Native American genocide

The 13 American colonies’ population grew from about 2,000 to 2.4 million between 1625 and 1775 while displacing Native Americans from eastern North America.


After the colonies declared independence in 1776 from Great Britain and formed the US, the settlers started to move west, clashing with and eradicating the Apache, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chinook, Navajo and Sioux tribes. Some of the names today are sadly used for American warfare helicopters and ubiquitous sport utility vehicles.

The national holiday, Thanksgiving, celebrated in November, is traced to the 1620s when European settlers invited Native Americans to a feast. The settlers later killed the population and gave thanks to God for allowing them to slaughter the “savages.”

The surviving descendants of Native American tribes live in poverty on federally recognized Indian reservations across the US.


Almost 100 million indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere have been killed or died prematurely because of the Europeans and their descendants in five centuries, according to David E. Stannard in his book, American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World.

Around 12 million indigenous people died within present US geographical boundaries between 1492 and 1900, according to Russell Thornton in American Indian Holocaust and Survival: A Population History since 1492.



Researchers (including one of us) often exclude American Indians and Alaska Natives from analysis because data for that group are unavailable or difficult to interpret. In this post, we use the best available data to shine a light on the devastating impact of the pandemic on AIAN communities, which were already facing many challenges.

An estimated 2.4 million people identify as AIAN alone (not in combination with any other race or ethnicity)[1], 21 percent of whom live on American Indian reservations. The poverty rate for AIAN people (23 percent) is similar to that of Black people (21 percent), but much higher than the average (12.3 percent); and American Indians residing on reservations have some of the highest rates of chronic diseases and mortality in the country. Access to health care for AIAN people on or near reservations and management of IHS has improved in recent decades, however, facilities are often still lacking some basic infrastructure to meet public health needs.

how many american indians died
how many american indians died


The term Genocide derives from the Latin (genos=race, tribe; cide=killing) and means literally the killing or murder of an entire tribe or people. The Oxford English Dictionary defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of an ethnic or national group” and cites the first usage of the term as R. Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, (1944) p.79. “By ‘genocide’ we mean the destruction of a nation or an ethnic group.”


The U.N. General Assembly adopted this term and defended it in 1946 as “….a denial of the right of existence of entire human groups.” Most people tend to associate genocide with wholesale slaughter of a specific people. However, “the 1994 U.N. Convention on the Punishment and Prevention of the Crime of Genocide, describes genocide beyond outright murder of people as the destruction and extermination of culture.” Article II of the convention lists five categories of activity as genocidal when directed against a specific “national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.”


These categories are:

  • Killing members of the group;
  • Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of group;
  • Deliberately infliction on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
  • Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
  • Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Genocide or the deliberate extermination of one ethnic group by another is not new, for example in 1937 the Pequot Indians were exterminated by the Colonists when they burned their villages in Mystic, Connecticut, and then shot all the other people — including women and children — who tried to escape. The United States Government has refused to ratify the U.N. convention on genocide.


Culture is the expression of a people’s creativity — everything they make which is distinctively theirs: language, music, art, religion, healing, agriculture, cooking style, the institutions governing social life. To suppress culture is to aim a cannonball at the people’s heart and spirit. Such a conquest is more accomplished than a massacre.

“We have seen the colonization materially kills the colonized. It must be added that it kills him spiritually. Colonization distorts relationships, destroys and petrifies institutions, and corrupts….both colonizers and the colonized.”



For a brief periods after the American Revolution, the United States adopted a policy toward American Indians known as the “conquest” theory. In the Treaty of Fort Stansix of 1784, the Iroquois had to cede lands in western New York and Pennsylvania.


Those Iroquois living in the United States (many had gone to Canada where the English gave them refuge) rapidly degenerated as a nation during the last decades of the eighteenth century, losing most of their remaining lands and much of their ability to cope.


The Shawnees, Miamis, Delawaresm, Ottawans, Wyandots, and Potawatomis watching the decline of the Iroquois formed their own confederacy and informed the United states that the Ohio river was the boundary between their lands and those of the settlers. It was just a matter of time before further hostilities ensued.


Article II of United Nations General Assembly resolution, 1946: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such: (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. In the mid-1970s a Choctaw-Tsalagi Indian Health Services doctor was approached by a 26-year-old American Indian woman who desired a “wonb transplant.”


She had been sterilized when she was 20 at the Indian Health Service hospital in Claremont, Oklahoma. It was discoverd that 75 percent of the Claremont sterilizations were non-therapeutic, that women American Indians were being prompted to sign sterilization forms they didn’t understand, that they were being told the operations were reversible, and that some women were even being asked to sign sterilization papers while they had yet to come out of birthing sedation.

how many american indians died
how many american indians died


The Europeans saw themselves as the superior culture bringing civilization to an inferior culture. The colonial world view split reality into popular parts: good and evil, body and spirit, man and nature, head and hear, European and primitive. American Indians spirituality lacks these dualism’s; language expresses the oneness of all things. God is not the transcendent Father but the Mother Earth, the Corn Mother, the Great Spirit who nourishes all It is polytheistic, believing in many gods and many levels of deity.


“At the basis of most American Native beliefs is the supernatural was a profound conviction that an invisible force, a powerful spirit, permeated the entire universe and ordered the cycles of birth and death for all living things.” Beyond this belief in a universal spirit, most American Indians attached supernatural qualities to animals, heavenly bodies, the seasons, dead ancestors, the elements, and geologic formations.


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American Indians felt comfortable with the environment, close to the moods and rhythms of nature, in time with the living planet. Europeans were quite different, viewing the earth itself as lifeless and inorganic, subject to any kind of manipulation or alteration. Europeans tended to be alienated from nature and came to the New World to use the wilderness, to conquer and exploit its natural wealth for private gain.

What was early contact like between English colonists and Native Americans?

In 1492, Christopher Columbus landed in the Caribbean, unlocking what Europeans quickly came to call the ‘New World’. Columbus encountered land with around two million inhabitants that was previously unknown to Europeans. He thought he had found a new route to the East, so he mistakenly called these people ‘Indians’.


Over the next few centuries, European powers colonised the Americas, seeking new land and trade opportunities. Spanish and Portuguese colonised large parts of South America, and other European colonial powers, including English explorers, focused on establishing settlements in North America.

The first permanent English settlement called Jamestown (after James I of England) was established in 1607 in Virginia, North America. These first settlers – and those who sent them – were keen to find out about the area and see what they could gain. The settlers began to explore and they soon encountered the Native people of the Chesapeake Bay region.


There were many tribes living there at the time, most belonging to three major chiefdoms: the Powhatan, the Piscataway, and the Nanticoke.

how many american indians died
how many american indians died

The first English explorers to North America arrived five years after Columbus in 1497, led by the Italian Giovanni Caboto (John Cabot). However, the English did not try to establish permanent settlements in the Americas until much later.


In 1585, English colonists attempted to settle at a place called Roanoke. The settlement lasted only for a short time.The local chieftain was killed by the English and the colony was eventually abandoned.


On May 14, 1607, the first lasting English settlement in North America was established. The settlement was named ‘Jamestown’ after the current King of England, James I. Captain Newport led the expedition, staying until June 22nd, when he sailed back to England for supplies. The source material in this lesson comes from the first few months of the colony (CO 1/1).


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