The Native Population of the Americas in 1492
How many people inhabited the New World when Columbus landed
on Hispaniola in 1492? How did the arrival of Europeans spark
the population decline of aboriginal people in the New World?
Second Revised Edition
William M. Denevan writes that, “The
discovery of America was followed by possibly the greatest demographic
disaster in the history of the world.” Research by some
scholars provides population estimates of the pre-contact Americas
to be as high as 112 million in 1492, while others estimate the
population to have been as low as eight million. In any case,
the native population declined to less than six million by 1650.
In this collection of essays, historians, anthropologists, and
geographers discuss the discrepancies in the population estimates
and the evidence for the post-European decline. Woodrow Borah,
Angel Rosenblat, William T. Sanders, and others touch on such
topics as the Indian slave trade, diseases, military action,
and the disruption of the social systems of the native peoples.
Offering varying points of view, the contributors critically
analyze major hemispheric and regional data and estimates for
pre- and post-European contact.
This revised edition features a new introduction by Denevan reviewing
recent literature and providing a new hemispheric estimate of
54 million, a foreword by W. George Lovell of Queen's University,
and a comprehensive updating of the already extensive bibliography.
Research in this subject is accelerating, with contributions
from many disciplines. The discussions and essays presented here
can serve both as an overview of past estimates, conflicts, and
methods and as indicators of new approaches and perspectives
to this timely subject.
William M. Denevan is the Carl O. Sauer Professor of Geography
and Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
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LC: 91-040042 E
386 pp. 6 x 9
29 illus., 7 maps