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Old December 26th, 2017, 06:57 PM   #1
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The Great Dying, 1616-1619


The Great Dying 1616-1619

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Native Americans in the North Shore area [of Massachusetts] at that time are believed to have numbered in the thousands, but twenty years later when Ipswich was settled, the Agawam people are believed to have been reduced to less than a hundred individuals.
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The Massachusetts Indians are said to have been reduced from thirty thousand to three hundred fighting men.
To this day there is no general agreement about which disease was responsible for this particular catastrophe. Smallpox and/or plague are primary suspects, but some evidence weakens the cases against them. A new candidate is leptospirosis, a bacteria carried by rats - not only rats aboard English settler ships, but also French vessels stopping to trade for furs.

Rough as conditions were for the Puritans at Plymouth colony, things would have been even worse had they not been able to harvest corn from abandoned fields nearby.


New England's Coastal Plague

New Hypothesis for Cause of Epidemic among Native Americans, New England, 1616Ė1619
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Old December 28th, 2017, 09:18 PM   #2

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Interesting- this has been one of those historical mysteries I've been following for quite awhile. So many of the early settler and trade ship accounts mention large drops of native populations and a very few mass graves have been identified but no consensus agreement on what caused the mass deaths which were repeated in the Missippi valley a few generations later.
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Old December 29th, 2017, 01:27 AM   #3

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The same occured during the setting up of the Sydney colony
within months the locals died , leaving only very few broken and traumatized survivors

"historians have reported that the population reduced dramatically with the introduction of smallpox into Sydney’s Aboriginal community in the first years of European contact, with reports of bodies floating in the harbour and found in foreshore rock shelters. It is estimated that almost half of Sydney’s Aboriginal population died in the smallpox epidemic of 1789. Melinda Hinkson’s Aboriginal Sydney says that the Gadigal, ‘the recognised owners of Sydney Cove – were reduced in number from about 60 in 1788 to just three in 1791’ "
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Old December 29th, 2017, 01:36 AM   #4
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Itís curious that native populations all over the world seem to have been wiped out by imported ĎEuropeaní diseases but the opposite doesnít seem to have happened. I know that Europeans were affected by tropical diseases of course but seemingly not to the same extent. There donít seem to have been non-European equivalents of smallpox or measles that would have killed large numbers of incomers. Any thoughts?
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Old December 29th, 2017, 05:31 AM   #5
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It seems like the Iroquois Confederacy took advantage of these weakened populations and raided as far as the Mississippi and western Great Lakes for years without significant opposition (see Francis Parkman's writings). This raises the question: were the Iroquois relatively immune? Did they maybe see an earlier population decline, that was recovered by the time others were succumbing?
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Old December 29th, 2017, 09:13 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by GogLais View Post
Itís curious that native populations all over the world seem to have been wiped out by imported ĎEuropeaní diseases but the opposite doesnít seem to have happened. I know that Europeans were affected by tropical diseases of course but seemingly not to the same extent. There donít seem to have been non-European equivalents of smallpox or measles that would have killed large numbers of incomers. Any thoughts?
A puzzlement indeed. I'm sure a lot of investigators have tried to solve it, and maybe they have, but I've run across no clear answer in my casual reads on the topic.

One possibility is that over centuries of exposure to various pandemics and countless low-key epidemics, Europeans eventually developed a relatively robust immune system that - for some, at least - could not only ward off small pox, etc., but also most diseases native to areas isolated from Europe until 1492 - areas that had experienced no equivalent history of plagues.
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Old December 29th, 2017, 09:24 AM   #7

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Originally Posted by RoryOMore View Post
It seems like the Iroquois Confederacy took advantage of these weakened populations and raided as far as the Mississippi and western Great Lakes for years without significant opposition (see Francis Parkman's writings). This raises the question: were the Iroquois relatively immune? Did they maybe see an earlier population decline, that was recovered by the time others were succumbing?
Hi Rory, that is a interesting point and it happened in some way in the whole continent, some populations were hit hard by diseases but others not, in Brazil, diseases destroyed the biggest chiefdoms Amazon rainfores like the Marajoara, Tapajos and Omaguas, but the Mundurukus or the Ashaninkas not and they expanded later on, altrough nearly all native americas didn't have immunity, they way they are hit was not uniform.
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Old December 29th, 2017, 10:05 AM   #8

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Very interesting thread. Thank you all for the food for thought!
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Old December 29th, 2017, 10:08 AM   #9

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I'd listen to King James on this one.

In your article.

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deserted as it were by their natural inhabitants, should be possessed and enjoyed by such of our subjects
King James I

So it was an abandonment.

This article on infectious desease has an interesting spin on how we potentially, and erroneously assign mass extinctions to virus.

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ijeb/2013/571939/

Quote:
Infectious disease, especially virulent infectious disease, is commonly regarded as a cause of fluctuation or decline in biological populations. However, it is not generally considered as a primary factor in causing the actual endangerment or extinction of species.
They go on to say...

Quote:
Recent methodological breakthroughs may lead to a better understanding of the past and present roles of infectious disease in influencing population fitness and other parameters.
Sounds as if the idea of mass extinction through infectious disease continues to be something that lacks accuracy on an estimate.

I did search, but I am still unsure.

King James One, may have a bible version assigned to them.

Last edited by MrKap; December 29th, 2017 at 10:10 AM.
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Old December 29th, 2017, 10:20 AM   #10

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The 1854 book “Indian Narratives,” by Henry Trumbull, Susannah Willard and Zadock Steele Says,

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Whole towns were depopulated. The living were not able to bury the dead and their bones were found lying above ground many years after. The Massachusetts Indians are said to have been reduced from thirty thousand to three hundred fighting men

The branch of science dealing with that is palaeopathology.

I know next to nothing about that.
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