Cherokee Medicine, Colonial Germs - Paul Kelton
Historians have long pointed to the devastation of smallpox and other European-introduced diseases in tracing the demise of North America’s indigenous peoples. Lacking antibodies, hundreds of thousands of Native Americans died. Control of the New World swung to its white colonists.
But that’s a convenient and incomplete story, says University of Kansas history professor Paul Kelton. Yes, there were epidemics. But in a discussion of his new book Cherokee Medicine, Colonial Germs: An Indigenous Nation’s Fight against Smallpox, 1518–1824, he maintains that scholars have overlooked how colonialism’s violence set the stage for Natives’ depopulation, curtailing their ability to protect themselves from infection, impeding recovery, and exacerbating mortality.
Co-presented by the University of Kansas School of Medicine’s Department of History and Philosophy.