Re: diseases and immunity

Philip Deitiker (
Tue, 16 Jul 1996 00:36:10 GMT (Philip Deitiker) wrote:

>Joel and Lynn Gazis-Sax <> wrote:
>>* Another interesting statistic that comes out in looking over several
>>chronologies is that in 1505, the population of New Spain was over
>>11 million people. Ten years later, it had around 6 million and ten
>>years later only one million people. Reports of epidemics were rife
>>during this period, which matched the period of first contact and
>>conquest of Mexico.
... I wrote ....
>How much of the loss of life was due to disease and aggresion, how
>long did it take for the native populations to rebound. If I loosely
>take the population of mexico today and estimate that 2/3 of gene
>originated from native american I have a population of about 70
>million people. From that 1 million the population must have grown a
>whole bunch. Is it fair to not include other reasons for the decrease
>in population.
> I seriously doubt the population of endemic americans in mexico
>every dropped to 1 million.
My statement is incorrect because the statistics don't even apply to
Mexico, Mexico remained under aztec control until 1521 when the last
of the aztec leaders subjigated to the sapnsih and was later executed.

Having done a little research I think certain points of interest which
were left out of the qualification of what New Spain was in the early
1500. Its important to note that from the period before 1521 New
Spain represented the antilles and not the large region of central,
north america and the philipines that currently defines what it was.
(since its capital Mexico City, did't fall until 1521)

Secondly, the lead in focuses primarily on disease as the sole cuase
of death. There are clear indications that the inhabitants of the
greater antilles where overexploited in order to aquire wealth for
spain, and that the decline in numbers correlated with the decline of
precious metal resources on those Isalnds. This is not a situation to
fairly say all things being held equal the inhabitants died of
disease. The inhabitants, probably more than anywhere else in spanish
colonize america, suffered more acutely from the affects of spanish
colonization, disease being one of many contributing factors.
In addition when the spanish arrived the inhabitants were already
in a conflict with island hopping 'cannabal' which the diseases and
the removal of vital strongholds in the greator antilles probably put
the colonized arawak indians at a disadvantage. Since the spanish had
no qualms about killing cannabals I suspect that the victors proably
placed themselves in equally perilous situation.

If this first contact scenario is used as exemplary of what happen
in all the americas, I don't think there would be more than a handful
of native america's as evidence of thier existance. Again, from one
extreme and extreme example has been taken, but even so it does not
support the following argument...

>>* That populations in the Americas dropped up to 90% or more when Europeans
>>brought their diseases with them. (Note that African slaves also brought
>>diseases with them -- things like Yellow Fever and Malaria which decimated
>>American cities from time to time until the mosquito link was found!)

Since this is probably the best example of contributing factors.