Science Blows Up Big Lies: Pre-Columbian Peoples Skilled Farmers, and Many Millions Killed by Invasion

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Steve Russell
Indian Country Today
8/24/15

We call it the European Invasion but modern academics have a more anodyne term, “Columbian Encounter.” Whatever you call it, the civilizations invaded or encountered left physical evidence on the land that far exceeds what could have been done by Native Americans in the numbers commonly thought to have lived in 1492. The most conservative studies estimated the Indian population in all of Amazonia to have been only one or two million souls when the Spanish arrived. Writers in the 18th and 19th centuries—including writers of judicial opinions—claimed that Native Americans were few and knew nothing of the sophisticated farming techniques practiced by Europeans. Those claims, dominant in American colonial literature, are being destroyed by 21st century science.

Newly discovered evidence debunks the narrative used to justify the monumental land thefts begun by the Columbian Encounter. Everyone has heard the argument that there were very few Native Americans wandering around in mostly empty lands before Columbus arrived. Less commonly known but often brought up at the time to justify European encroachment was that farming is the highest and best use of land. Hunting and gathering can happen anywhere, which made it excusable to shove allegedly nomadic peoples aside.

We live in the time of anthropogenic (man-made) climate change and those of us who claim the change is a matter of measurement rather than of belief pay close attention to the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air. That measurement has been taken directly in Mauna Loa, Hawaii, every month since 1958. The alarming upward trend has driven the search for indirect measurement methods, cross-checked for accuracy, to yield CO2 concentrations going back before the Holocene (the entirely recent epoch of humans):

*ice core samples – Ice cores have layers just like tree rings, and in each layer tiny bubbles of air are trapped that can be measured for CO2 content. The layers are dated by counting them and by measuring radioactive materials that decay at a known rate.

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