Monday, April 21, 2008

Population history of American indigenous peoples

Millions of indigenous people lived in the Americas when the 1492 voyage of Christopher Columbus began a historical period of large-scale European contact with the Americas. European contact with what they called the "New World" led to the European colonization of the Americas, with millions of emigrants (willing and unwilling) from the "Old World" eventually resettling in the Americas. While the population of Old World peoples in the Americas steadily grew in the centuries after Columbus, the population of the American indigenous peoples plummeted. The extent and causes of this population decline have long been the subject of controversy and debate. The 500th anniversary in 1992 of Columbus's famous voyage drew renewed attention to claims that indigenous peoples of the Americas had been the victims of ethnocides (the destruction of a culture).

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