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animals away from their natural habitats. In the West, white hunters would kill many big game for their skins. Natives were faced with a difficult decision - to move to a new hunting ground, where they would be met by a hostile tribe, or to fight for their land. European settlers were threatening the security and lifestyle of the Red Indians, and did not respect their rights.Wars between the whites and the Indians would have eventually ended in the outnumbering of the natives, pushing them westwards. The numbers of the native American population had dropped dramatically since European settlement - from around a million to only 237000 by 1900 - stemming from the introduction of diseases the natives had no immunity to, strong liquor and 300 years of warfare.An example of fighting that resulted from disputes about the ownership of the land was the Battle of Little Big Horn, a well-known symbol of Indian resistance. The American Government was trying to purchase their territory to move the Indians to a reservation. However, the Sioux tribe refused the offer and believed that they take up the hatchet to defend their land, no matter what the price may be. When war was declared on the Sioux, the Battle of Little Big Horn started. Sioux chiefs Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse prepared their warriors to meet with the US Army, and were later joined by the Cheyenne and Arapaho. Colonel Custer was sent to defeat them, and ordered the 7th Calvary to attack a Sioux encampment. ‘There are not enough Indians in the world to defeat Seventh Calvary’ had been an understatement of Custer’s. Within two days the General and his men had been killed due to carelessly underestimating a fierce opponent.Edgar Samuel Paxson's "Custer's Last Stand", 1899, oil on canvasA major disaster arising from contact between the two peoples is the impact of disease. Disease was a major weapon of the European colonists, playing a key role in their success. It is estimated that prior to European settlement, there were more around 50 million people living in the Americas. Smallpox, measles and influenza were widespread and common in Europe, but had not infested North or South America. Therefore the natives had no immunity to these disease, and it is believed that over 90% of the population was wiped out within 75 years of contact. Although there were many cases where the native North Americans did try to resist European colonisation, disease contributed greatly to European dominance.Illustration from Sahagún, Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España, c. 1575-1580; ed., tr., James Lockhart, We People Here: Nahuatl Accounts of the Conquest Mexico (Univ. of California Press, 1993)An excerpt from the above book states: ‘... an epidemic broke out, a sicknessof pustules. It began in Tepeilhuitl. Large bumps spread on people; some were entirely covered. . . .[The victims] could no longer
Valer Birleanwalk about, but lay in their dwellings and sleeping places, . . . And when they made a motion, they calledout loudly. The pustules that covered people caused great desolation; very many people died of them, and many just starved to death; starvation reigned, and no one took care of others any longer.’ This