Monday, October 12, 2015

Happy Indigenous Peoples Day

Lecture Date: August 8, 2013
Charles Mann's book "1491" won the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Keck award for the best book of the year. In this lecture he looks at new reserach on pre-Columbian America.  He concludes that the Americas had actually been heavily populated and developed before the arrival of Columbus but then were rapidly depopulated by the introduction of numerous European and African diseases, giving Europeans the mistaken idea that their new land was a vast, empty wilderness.
More versions in more places can be found, such as this one where he stands in front of a screen with more photos than the above:
More articles:
   "It's a difficult job to run through the history of two continents from 25,000 BC to 1491 AD, but if any book comes close, it's this one. The book is designed to set up and knock down various myths about the pre-Columbian Americas. The result is a mix of disorienting new revelations and oddly intuitive information.
The former comes in the form of understanding the way people in the Americas "terraformed" the land, sculpting whole ecosystems in order to encourage the growth of the plants and the migration of the animals that suited them best.
The latter reminds us of facts that, if applied to most other continents, we would already have guessed. For example, the fact that when an existing empire is invaded, the people who have been oppressed by the empire are more likely to help the invaders — or use them to advance their own goals — than they are to fight on the side of the people who have been oppressing them. The book gives readers an understanding of two continents, both of which had a complicated existing power structure before new people in boats showed up."

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