What if Disease Didn’t Wipe Out the Native Americans?

What if Disease Didn’t Wipe Out the Native Americans?

What if Disease Didn’t Wipe Out the Native Americans?

By Bryan Wright 100 Comments August 18, 2019


By the time the British colonies were established in North America, The Native American population was only 10 percent of what it had been. 90 percent of American Indians were killed by Old-world disease. That’s the equivalent of aliens exploring Earth only to fight a group of survivors, a mere shadow of what they used to be. Now I’m not saying Native American people all had gleaming cities. well some did. But it’s often overlooked just how much disease played a part into Europe’s conquering of the New world. Using alternate history we ask a question. What if disease had not wiped out the Native Americans? How would interaction with the Americas go? Well here is one scenario. In our timeline the Columbian exchange was the trade between the New world and the Old. Plants, animals, slaves and disease traverse the Atlantic. Smallpox, being the most notable disease, ravaged the natives after first contact causing an extinction-level event for the people. It broke down tribes, decimated villages, and paved the way for the Europeans. It’s difficult to predict accurately just how much history would have changed had the plagues not occurred. Almost all interactions Europeans had with native people were with the post disease survivors. Squanto, the famous native who saved the Pilgrims from starvation, did so because his tribe who previously lived on the land all died from disease. Then he died from disease. There’s going to be a lot of death in this video. Had the tribes of North America not lost most of their population, it’s certain early English Colonies like Jamestown would have been destroyed. Jamestown itself almost collapsed in our timeline, so it’s certain it wouldn’t have survived had a war with the natives broke out. Which wars definitely would have. Since natives didn’t have definition of borders like Europeans did, the arrival of fenced-in areas cut off access to previously tribal hunting grounds. This, causing tensions, usually fell into war. In our timeline these war/rebellions always ended in a British victory. But in this alternate scenario, just the sheer number of natives overwhelmed the British. With a much larger population, it would have been a deadly endeavor to remove tribes. Since wars were costly and counter-productive, it’s most likely colonist policy would be more towards trade than war. Simply because you can’t go to war if you are the vast vast minority. So, the English colonists would need to maintain good relations with the more numerous native tribes. It’s difficult to say what specific events would occur after this. The English colonies, and future United States, would only be possible because the land was opened up. It’s likely the English, French, and Spanish would exert influence over the tribes. Picking sides and tribal wars and making alliances with them, and against each other. European outposts/cities would be founded on the coast with influence similar to that in India and China. Trades of guns, metal, and other Western Technology bring an entire new face to native Americans. Propped up by their European allies, Native states could eventually evolve to compete against other tribes/ White colonists. However, over the centuries, once France and Britain gained a better foothold in the Americas, They begin annexing tribal land, similar to the Middle East in Africa. In our timeline the Spanish were able to take advantage of the Plague. Both the Aztec and the Inca fell into disarray once smallpox hit. Had these never occurred, the Spanish would still be able to eventually conquer both civilizations. Not popular with local tribes, Do that whole human sacrifice thing, the Spanish still led a revolt against Aztec rule. The Inca put up more of a fight, but it would be impossible for the new world civilizations to fend off conquest forever. Simply because of the technological difference, the New world would have been conquered and influenced no matter what. The difference though, in this alternate timeline, is the Demographics. Even if the European nations did claim land in the Americas, the native people would stay a dominant population in their homeland, like with Africa in the 19th century. Would they gain independence? Would native nations be formed where the United States is in our timeline? I’ll let you figure that out. So much changed by the plague not occurring; It’s difficult to accurately predict how much this affected the world. Like us on Facebook and subscribe if you have not done so. This is Cody from the Alternate History Hub. [Outro Music]

100 Comments found

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Tyler Durden

You can go to war even If You are a minority If the other doesnt have a democracy

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Ahti Köxi

the disease that wiped out the Native Americans is called 'colonism'

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OttoVonVogelMann

amazing

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OttoVonVogelMann

Reeee

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OttoVonVogelMann

tets

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American Ride

It is an interesting scenario. I think there is no doubt that had disease not been a factor Indians would probably rule the vast majority of North and South America. I think it is wrong to claim that Europeans came to the new world promoting war and with the intent to conquer. The English settlers were undesirables that came from Europe for new opportunities. Settlers created settlements that competed for resources and declared ownership of land that appeared to be unused and that sewed the seeds of conflict. Both sides became warlike and both sides were racist and brutal once conflict commenced. Neither side was good and both sides sought to genocide each othher out of existence. Someone had to win and endless new arrivals from Europe and the technological superiority of the Europeans was the deciding factor.

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Roberth Sa

some of them have it…. really? be honest and say that the aztecs just ROCKS more that anything in the history of this continent! get over it.

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WIND Buffalo

Man this pink reed devils awalys trying 2 make themself feel good.. but yall aint good nor nice…yous were a liar an murder from the beginning 2 the end.. yall shall soon Be No more….

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rawmilk mike

Click-bate, How is this an alternate history? Don't you mean an imaginary history? I say, What if Disease Didn't Wipe Out the Native Americans? What if it was starvation? Most Indians were farmers and city dwellers who had their farms and cities destroyed and their trade routs severed. And what if they weren't wiped out but rather enslaved? Or what if most of them are still here but simply called African instead of Indian? And what if most of their ancestors were never slaves? What if it were only the white $3 Indians that died of these European diseases? These are what I'd call “alternate histories.”

Worst case scenario, smallpox (Which by the way, was killed just as many Europeans back in Europe at this very same time.) 30% mortality, the Indian village would have still been there. You'll need to do better than that. Not to mention, the Indians were far healthier than the Europeans were when they first arrived and stayed healthier for many generations. Infant mortality for first-generation European women was horrendous.

Even after all this, there are still over 500 federally recognized Indian tribes in the US alone. Meany of their tribal counsels may be white but the Indians themselves are not.

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rawmilk mike

0:00 Only 10% of what it was? What hat did they pull that rabbit out of? They didn't have the CIA, satellites, and GPS cell phones. The French and English were just as susceptible to old word disease as the Americans and probably even more so due to their poor health. Speaking of tech: The English and the Spanish were newcomers to transatlantic shipping. The moors had been doing it for hundreds of years. Some American Indians are probably Moors. We will never know which ones were the true Americans. Steel and gunpowder weren't enough. It took guile and deceit. The colonists had to first ask the Indians for permission. And it was that way for hundreds of years.

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SemiAuto Thanos Car

I dunno why mixing and Assimilation is Not part of the Demise of the Natives.

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CLINTO JOEMON

Give the the land back Anglo Americans

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CLINTO JOEMON

Make America Native Again

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James Law

Fuck you.

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John Kerstetter

European settlements possibly limited to small towns and trading outposts along the coasts. Small amounts of traders and trappers allowed to enter hinterland.

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Sephiroth Prime

Disease didn’t wipe out the indigenous people’s. Settlers did. The main reason the diseases even affected the indigenous people is because of the settlers. Disease was a footnote in the main storyline of the indigenous people’s decline in population. The number one cause? Murder by settlers. This title is objectively misleading.

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Sephiroth Prime

Never heard them referenced before

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Matthew K

It’s so heart breaking what happened to the native peoples. So much culture, history, and spirituality lost to time due to blind European colonialism. I always wonder what would have happened if the indigenous people had been left to their own devices.

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rawmilk mike

The plaque in the old World wiped out around 30% of some Native population. It didn't change whole societies but social uprisings did pave the way for European change. Smallpox didn't depopulate the American continents. The natives are still here. We call them African Americans. But they ain't African. The North American continent was taken over by the forked tongue. Gunpowder played only a very small role. Disease had nothing to do with it. Illness is about snakeoil and malnutrition.

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la71 cao

what if Native Americans rise up and over throw a government that committed genocide against them ..

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Vlad

Liar

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Vlad

Yeah sure "diseases" …

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warrior for justice

Biological warfare

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Kangas Khan

Native: hello brother welcome to the land of the blue lakes
Settlers: uh thanks ATCHOO
Millions die

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Jordan Yoshimura

did'int make sence

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Jae

WERE STILL HERE!!! YOU JUST DONT WANNA NOTICE

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saez saez

what if Tecumseh united native america?

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Simon Peter

What if the natives landed in europe/africa first. Also, I'm not sure if the spanish conquest would be so definite if they could never get a foothold without getting kicked off. Kind of reminds me of the Zulu resisting the dutch expanse from south africa. However, the prospects of potential gold would definitely fuel large spanish.. inquisitions..

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Aaron Green

Ah, live long my people

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Code E

I wonder if the technological gap could have been closed if the natives could fight off Europeans long enough. The natives often traded with settlers for guns bullets and powder so maybe with a large enough population cooperation would be a necessity with European colonies and the natives.

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Dejan

Hahahwhayqyqyayayayayayayaahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha americans fuck you

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brooks h.

They had no concept of disease control or land ownership. If there were 50 mil like some claim. How come people nowadays arnt finding more bodies? A hillbilly farmer just wants to tend his crops and honor god. But the homeless people kill his youngest son , steal his horses, poison his well. I'd want to kill some fucking savages too.

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The Kehwanna Coast

It would be cool to see as many indigenous races in the Americas as much as all the other races present throughout the Continents. At least a lot of the indigenous people of the Americas got mixed in with other races later in history. Because of them, a lot Latin Americans look the way do (beautiful men and women), some African or Caucasian Americans are mixed with native blood (also a beautiful combo), and many other races in the Americas contain some trace of native blood. Still, it would be nice if more of the indigenous people had survived the plagues.

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Freddy Pedraza

If you can't beat them, fuck 'em – Spaniards

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Daphne Topel-Samek

What's the name of the gleaming Native American city that map depicts? I want to look further into it

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Cng215

Filthy Nean Knuckle draggers

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Víctor Matía Rodríguez

You should know when the Spanish started colonizing they (I am from Spain but I obviously didn't participate) had a policy of "You either work with us and don't resist or we will wipe you out". There is actually an instance, the Canary Islands, in which the Spanish "had" to apply the second method, just like they did against the Aztecs. Both the Guanches and the Aztecs were exterminated. The Aztecs just took some more time and the other tribes were used to help to make it faster.

You are missing the fact that Europeans had enough armor to resist any attack from the natives and many of them saw the horse mounted colonialists as gods or demigods. No amount of natives would have been enough to do a war against the colonialists, not even the Spanish ones… and Spain had a short run, it wasn't even the strongest nation on the other side of the pond.

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Jack the Gestapo

If smallpox didnt finish the job, the united states will eventually finish them off manually

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Nazx 36

I never understand why the old world didn't die like all america i mean the natives must have there own diseases ?

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Joe Reynolds

What if Wolverine never got his adamantium-coated skeleton?

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Nicholas Trueblood

Tennessee might have still formed only with more Cherokee living in it and the Cherokee making up the majority population.

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Rajid Mohandas

We'd probably end up with the British controlling the natives like the Indians of India and Egypt, ruling through royal that were there. They weren't racist per say but if they wanted to wipe the natives out they could.

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Cato Hunter

i am native

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Skrodor

Nah I'm sure if this were true we would surely donminate, remember that the American army had dedicated forces to fight certain tribes. It's only after some tribes banded together that they completely humiliate the us army.

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Taavo Lippus

You said that trade would have brought technology to the new world and then ignored it by saying: incans and mayans would have lost because of technological difference

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Sujit Sharma

lies spread by the americans that the natives were wiped out by "disease". In reality there was a systematic Government policy of genocide and millions of native americans were just shot dead. Even the presidents like washington encouraged extermination.

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Ben Small

What if Titanic never sank?

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Michael Snyder

The accepted estimate of the populations of the Americas and Europe in 1500 CE/AD was 14 million versus 81 million. Great Britain alone had 4.25 million. Had the Native population not been decimated by disease, the entire population of the Americas would have approached 42 million in 1850 versus a population of 24 million in the British colonies/US alone. Europe had 265 million people by then. In North America, it was 1 million Natives in 1500. Without disease, at the rate of increase in Europe between 1500 and 1800, Native Americans would have numbered no more than 3 million throughout North America versus 6 million in the British colonies/US alone. The massive pressure of immigration would still result in the advances of European peoples across North America, which would accelerate with the technology gap. Take away the impact of disease and you only delay the inevitable by no more than 100 years. And the Native Americans are still a minority in their own lands.

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Lyndon Fair

Disease by white mf

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Al S

I think the major difference between an America vs an Africa in this scenario is that it seems that Europeans and Natives were much more willing for interbreeding than Africa. You do not see the massive amount of genetic mixing in Africa that you do in the Americas. I think that after awhile North America would have looked more like South America without the disease in that you have a new genetic racial divide (Think a NA version of Hispanics, but with British and French blood) and a mixing of cultures with the conquest. I think tht would be the major difference. Especially since it's long term solution and such.

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The Israelites

And now natives over populating y'all and you call us immigrants lol yea you beat us alright

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Midget

Cutis, what do you think?

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Jude Lammirato

The Incas would be a superpower.

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Andrew Scolari

fuck all white people.

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FormalThread479-Minecraft

There are still native Americans alive today… their population is growing faster than non Native American populations.

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John Lost

It wouldn't be called "America".

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Roel The allmighty

Well , why didnt this happen in africa ?? the whole continent was brutally conquered and later the whites got kicked out

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namjoons smile

dIseAsE

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The Native Libertarian

What if the American horse did not go extinct?

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XDJumpstart_YT

What if Cody decided that he should make a timeline that prequeled this called "What if the Americas had Horses

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F K

Lol. Just because the Piligrims didn't come before 1600, doesn't mean European didn't send little gifts to the native americans prior to the piligrims getting here. So the Native americans have existed for hundreds of years, and then all of a sudden, after columbus discovered this place, they all died. Then quite coincidentally the Piligrims showed up 2 years later.

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Matthew Bittenbender

Very interesting subject. The English-French war may not have occurred. The Spanish may have also kept colonies. The Louisiana Purchase would likely still have happened but the English colonies maybe never revolted if native and settler tensions were high. Depending on the level of peace or tension, the policies hay shaped this country would have been very different. Manifest destiny may not have been a thing with too many indigenous tribes to conquer. We maybe settled for a more Canadian model then. Conversely it could’ve ended up like India with the English eventually getting the boot. Worse still, it could’ve looked like Apartheid in South Africa. Would the African slave trade continued in this time line? In any case the United States as we know would likely not exist without greater atrocities.

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Ryan Williams

what if the natives had independently invented gunpowder ?

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Arnel Swartz

WTF, I LOVE SMALL POX NOW.

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Peter Santos

Unlike Africa, the native population in the americas was very small after all. Especially in North America, where they didn’t have a large area of land for agriculture. There were many native tribes, but most of the lands in North America, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia was still pretty empty (compared to the old world). The native tribes could have maintained their population and culture, but I doubt it that the empty land would not be colonized by Europeans, just like South Africa in our timeline.

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Max Swenson

What meaningful purpose does the broad thread of speculation serve? Go back far enough and no one is native to anywhere. We're all invaders. Oh the shame.

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Nicholas Alexander

Squanto has actually been to Europe which explains why he didn’t get sick and die

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David Witcher

Nah. Britain conquered India while being vastly out numbered. They would have played on the tribalism in the Americas much as they did in India and much we do in the Middle East and Africa to this day.

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David Witcher

Btw I believe tribalism is the worst thing 3rd world countries have to deal with. If you cant vote or participate in your government, can't marry or hire unless they are in your tribe you are screwed as a country.

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Christian Minguez

666k views

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Charles Henry

666,663’d viewer

so close, yet so far

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Melody Abrogar

What if europe was located in the americas?

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Mike

It’s amazing that Native Americans lived a socialist lifestyle and it worked for thousands of years. I can’t imagine hunting and gathering could keep a population alive.

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John Fox

1. Nobody really knows how many native americans lived in what later became the USA prior to European settlement
2. Europeans had their own mass outbreaks of disease several times and that is what gave them immunity. They are more genetically diverse than Native Americans with Europe being populated over thousands of years by several different groups and having numerous contacts with far-flung regions due to trade. There is no way that Native Americans could have avoided their eventual demise.

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Christian Miranda

america would not exist.

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Nellie Eli

Honestly coming from a true native American not I'm 1/36 Cherokee no a true blackfoot native American I fucking hate white people who say there 1/16 or 1/36 Cherokee because I never even meant a Cherokee before

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Badr -eddin

What if the white man didn't wipe out the native Americans!

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Wondering Spirit

Would be like South America, a bunch of mixed people.

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Lucio Ferox88

You're actually claiming that the mesoamericans would overthrow their rulers thanks to the invaders?
I call bullshit on this one..

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Alonzo J

It’s just african people and native people were just to giving and caring, and had less evil persuasive thoughts then the Caucasian. If we did have a more similar thinking then we probably would have started killing by the first boat that arrived………British turned Americans? What can I say!! I love cheeseburgers! But I hate the past. Peace out yum..

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White Eagle

Hey what if we did all the stuff you (Europe) did to us (native americans)

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mongol

They dont have concept of borders

But its their land ?

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BloodofPatriots

They were still Stone Age peoples. Regardless of their numbers, eventually metal and guns would overwhelm them. In the end, nothing would change.

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imnotoverlyobsessive

Okay okay okay I gotta bring this up. So the Aztecs were, for all intents and purposes, very much a civilized people. “But wait!” you’ll say. “They practiced human sacrifice!” Yes, they did. But it wasn’t a “weee killing people is fun, stab stab burn burn smash your brains in” sort of thing, not by any stretch.

If you look across different cultures over the course of history, you’d be hard pressed to find one that didn’t have what I have come to refer to as justifiable homicide. To clarify, I don’t mean murder (the unlawful and premeditated killing of one human being by another). I mean homicide, which is just the killing of one human being by another, not necessarily lawful. For example, killing in war still counts as homicide because you’re still killing another human being. Strictly speaking, you don’t HAVE to kill in war, you could aim to deal non-lethal wounds and take them prisoner instead. And that’s exactly what the Aztecs did. They actually saw the Spanish (who, like we do, saw war as a kill-or-be-killed sort of thing and killed the enemy out of necessity so that they could survive) as barbaians, as savages, because they were killing people in war.

The Aztecs viewed human life as sacred and not to be ended without good reason, and not if you didn’t have to. The reason they performed human sacrifice was because they believed their gods died every night and their blood kept the sun alive, and they had to mimic this in order to keep the sun alive. So, from their perspective, it was very much a necessity. It wasn’t just to save themselves, they believed, but to save everyone, the entire world, the universe itself. Without this human sacrifice, they believed the entire universe would die. That, to them, was as real as the Spanish trying to kill them. So both societies had their idea of justifiable homicide (war for the Spanish, human sacrifice for the Aztecs) and both societies viewed the other’s justiable homicide to be savage and pointless. And I think that’s very interesting, and a very interesting look on how the human mind works.

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surveyman1

Thanks. I do disagree though. The Aztec, Inca being conquered by the spanish is impossible because you ignore the one fight that is unfightable at least at this era of our evolution, and that is guerrilla warfare. The Incans could indefinitely fight a entrenched battle with the Spanish in such rugged geographic as South America. Spain would gain some land but eventually die off due to rebellions by the locals where they did grab a foot hold or colonies.
S:-: Randy

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Andre

Europeans brought the disease

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H T Awesome

If disease didn’t wipe out natives…

They would not have died

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The American Crusader

Thank God, someone who doesn't buy into that "Genocide" myth

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Asterix S

Dont think the incas would be conquered. The europeans focus was on the closest place possible. With the legends of gold and riches the conquistadores went south with fears. They pulled a trick to get their emperor into submision, if the emperor didnt die with smallpox they would still have heirs disposed to take power. With the knowledge of the incas, europe would enter in process of trade. That is Spain's timeline: war of succesion and later the 30 years war. Their economy wouldn't handle a expedition south. however they would surely be able to colonize brazil and north colombia. As the time and technology anvances the spanish would colapse. You are certain that the british would dominate the colonies, that is after 1750… By then the united provinces revolution happens. With less influence, more unrest, and less economy colonies in south america would either perhaps be in a similar revolution. By then the incas would adopt western culture. As the time advances and europe grows more powerful and conflicts erupt. They would seek trade with thee woesterns, scramble for africa, asian trade, now south american trade. Later perhaps they'd be involved in a series of wars of power in 19th century. Their future might be uncertain. You see ppl, everything depends on their economy

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Hudson D

big finger to the brits

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Terrance Cherry

The Europeans brought small pox blankets to native americans tribes to wipe them out

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Member Berries

I want an alternate reality Quintin Taranteno movie where the natives unite and win.

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dorito Queen

Were still alive…………thats all I'm gonna a say 😂

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Matthew Whittick

“Disease”

The Americans didn’t help

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Ranganathan Jg

It would have been like India…lol

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StevieMac!

I was shocked by how wrong my knowledge was on early American History. I took an interest in early America because I can trace my family roots to Peregrine White, the first known English child born to the Pilgrims in America. But my information came from the polished, one sided, America can do no wrong, version we get in public schools in America. I recently read about how they could smell fires from the enormous populations 100 miles out at sea. There were rows of replanted trees that would stretch for miles as far west as Ohio. There were gardens of beans, squash, and other vegetables already planted by the Natives of Massachusetts, the hardest hit by disease, and now long gone. Squanto watched as the new settlers dug up his peoples graves to use, not only their tools and pottery, but also their clothes and jewelry. The biggest misconception was that my ancestors discovered a vast new untamed wilderness. What they really did was take over a graveyard of a civilization that was once as populated as Europe. The diseases that rocked Europe hit the Americas much harder because, unlike Europeans, there were no domesticated animals living among Native Americans to help build up their immune systems to these diseases over time. I'm still learning, so if anyone has any good sources to share about real early American History I'd love to hear.

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The Reformer

"Would native states have been founded where the United States is?"

Way to be egocentric in regards to American countries. The US isn't the only political entity in which native peoples lived.

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John Fox

A few big points. 1) Canada ( after the defeat of the French) and the United States were largely colonized by the British, who brought over entire communities of men, women and children ( often belonging to church communities) whereas the French, Spanish and Portuguese tended to bring over single men who had children with Native American women. The British replaced whereas the others tended to mix.
2) The population of Native Americans was far larger in places like Mexico, Central America and South America.
3) To this day, the majority of people from Mexico to the tip of South America have at least SOME Native American ancestry. The vast majority of people in Mexico, Central America, Colombia, Venezuela, Equador and Peru have Native American roots and most also have some Spanish or other European roots too. In Chile most are also mixed, but the European portion of their DNA is higher.. Argentina and Uruguay are probably the most European, at least in urban areas due to massive immigration from Europe in the 1800s and early 1900s. Brazil varies by region. A huge percentage probably have some Native American DNA, though European and African DNA forms a much bigger element.
4) Today, because of massive immigration from Latin America into the United States, people with at least some Native American ancestry ( though native to Mexico, Central and South America) are a growing percentage of the population. In California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, the majority of people will probably have a large % of Native American DNA within the next decade.

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Galaxy Stealer

3000?

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cass lane

if they are given guns to fight eachother its not crazy to think they would begin copying europes armys and start nation states that rapidly industrialise while keeping there own culture strong like japan they need to do this would be the main driver just like with japan they would want to be able to keep independent

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