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LostInParadise's avatar

What would have happened among Native Americans if the Europeans arrived 300 years later?

Asked by LostInParadise (17946 points ) June 24th, 2010

I get the feeling from my limited knowledge of history that the New World may have been a bit different if the Europeans arrived later.

The Aztec empire was fairly new when the Spanish arrived. Would they have been able to spread out further, carrying literacy along with them? Would they have been able to mount a strong resistance to the Europeans? In the northeast U.S., the Iroquois had become a fairly potent force. Would they have extended their influence? And what about the Cherokees in the southeast and the Comanches on the plains? How much longer could the Incas have gone on before picking up a written language?

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10 Answers

Drcpb's avatar

The Europeans were technologically advanced, and I get the feeling that they would have stayed that way.

I do have a feeling, though, that the Native American empire as a whole would have grown exponentially. Maybe this might have meant that the Native Americans could have dominated the Europeans.

As for the separate tribes, I do not know. I personally am about 70% Cherokee, 20% Osage, and the other 10% is an off mix of European. It’s a bit hard to choose a side on this one…

I suppose that we’ll never know what would have happened. The Native American Nation is basically destroyed. There are still many reservations here and there, but for the most part, they’re down and out.

wundayatta's avatar

It all depends on what would have happened in terms of technology. Had the natives either invented or borrowed the technology (both in terms of hardware and thinking), they might have been able to fend off the Europeans.

Still, I wonder. Would their culture have kept them from adopting new technologies? I doubt it, but it could have been possible.

kevbo's avatar

Check out 1491 by Charles Mann. His thesis is that native societies in the Americas were well developed and that populations were far greater than our high school textbooks would have us believe.

josie's avatar

A fun thing to think about. However, that is not what happened.
Anyway, however the native Americans civilization might have progressed, they would still have been three centuries behind the Europeans in your scenario. Plus, they would have missed out on the industrial revolution. The differences in philosophy and technology would probably have been even more dramatic than they historically were.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

None of these cultures had gunpowder or advanced metal working, nor were they developing them. It was the weapons advantage and the Native American’s lack of immunity to European diseases that sealed their fate.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I agree with @stranger_in_a_strange_land. For more information about this, check out Guns, Germs, and Steel (book, mini series).

LostInParadise's avatar

Maybe the Europeans would still have prevailed, but I was thinking that the Native Americans might have been more organized and that the conflict might have had a different character.

My thinking on this was prompted by a radio interview with the author of this book on Comanches . The author claimed that they were highly formidable militaristic tribe engaging in guerrilla style warfare, and that what ultimately led to their defeat was the decimation of the herds of buffaloes by the U.S..

YARNLADY's avatar

It’s hard to make any claims regarding the numerous and varied peoples of North and South America. When Pizzaro invaded the land of the Incas, on the west coast of Chili and Peru, he found a totally different culture than the Mayan civilization that greeted Cortez and those who came after him in the Yukatan Peninsula. When De Soto invaded Florida, (so named named by earlier explorer, Ponce De Leon) he encountered and tried to enslave several peaceful, agricultural, civilized indigenous nations, which he called tribes.

Perhaps the millions of people that lived in various communities throughout the lands would have come in contact with each other, and built upon their shared knowledge, or perhaps they would have continue to become as contentious and war like as the Europeans were.

My belief is that no matter how long European contact was delayed, the introduction of European diseases would still have managed to kill off anywhere from 50% to 90% of the population, just like the Bubonic Plague that hit Europe did.

mattbrowne's avatar

Assuming the same progress in medicine, but little interest in transatlantic exploration would have meant that Europeans would have brought both the diseases and their cures. Fewer Native Americans would have died.

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