Saving the US Indians? by DouglasMoreman
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Most Indians of the Americas had, by 1700, been killed by diseases brought by Europeans and Africans and to which Ameroindians had never been exposed.
In 1800, the dying continued. But ...
President Andrew Jackson may have (inadvertantly?) saved the lives of many Creeks and Cherokees when, through Congress, he had them take up lands to the west in exchange for their parts of what are now parts of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi.
The Indian lands were being intruded upon by Europeans. In what is now north Alabama, the density of the population of Europeans in neighboring counties exceeded the density in Cherokee lands by ten-to-one. Apparently, European-stock were moving onto Indian lands. There were mixed marriages whose children grew up as Cherokee. This might have introduced resistance to Europeans diseases.
An example of the mixing is the Cherokee "chief" John Ross, born in Turkeytown (near present-day Gadsden, Alabama). His ancestry was mostly Scotish and 1/8 Cherokee, but he led his Cherokee neighbors as they trekked to Oklahoma in what, much later, became known as "The Trail of Tears."
Other tribes, Choctaws, Chickasaws, and Seminoles and Sauks and Fox, moved from Florida and snippets of North Carolina and Tennessee, and even some from the corner region of Illinois, modern Iowa and Wisconsin. It is easy to assume all these folks who were moved westward were more numerous than they actually were.
The numbers who moved were being reduced, I suspect, by the continuing, but sparsely reported, ravagings by European diseases. The are conflicting estimates of the numbers. But, the total of those who moved seems to be fewer than half a crowd in a large sports stadium, under 46,000.
It seems a curious fact that the epidemics that actually removed Indians from all over the Americas remains scarcely appreciated. Worse, memish alternatives to those epidemics have been invented and disseminated, even by people alleged to be "historians." And widely believed.
Those Cherokees moved by President Jackson seems to have numbered about 16,000 (or "25,000"). Census records of 1830 show that the number of non-Indians living in counties near to Indian lands was more than 10 times that number. It seems therefore, that the Indians lacked the population density to long resist encroachment by the more rapidly-reproducing Europeans and Africans. Moving away from diseased Americans of European and African descent might have saved lives by reducing contacts between Indians and people from the more dense populations of Europeans and Africans. Slowly, marriage brought-in resistive genes and, with vaccinations of various sorts, saved the Indians from a possible total extinction.
The U. S. government tried to save lives. In 1796, Jenner had shown the efficacy of vaccination against smallpox and, just five years later, President Thomas Jefferson made his first attempt to save Indian lives via vaccination against smallpox. He also, in 1803, had Lewis and Clark try to vaccinate Indians on their Expedition.
But, a toll was being taken by several other Euro-diseases that were not well recorded, if at all. It is written that, during the removal to Oklahoma, some Indians that were moving suffered from cholera, but numbers seem to not exist, even among the most-
literate of the Indian nations. Efforts by the American government to save Indian lives through smallpox vaccinations expanded westward to villages that saw few white or black skinned Americans, reaching into the Tetons as early as the 1830s.