By Paul Hackett
Read or Download A Very Remarkable Sickness: Epidemics in the Petit Nord, 1670-1846 PDF
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Extra resources for A Very Remarkable Sickness: Epidemics in the Petit Nord, 1670-1846
Finally, there were additional layers of complexity to this pattern of human geography in the Petit Nord that helped to favour or hinder the spread of epidemic disease in the region. The likelihood that a disease would be passed between neighbouring Aboriginal peoples within the region was by no means universal, and varied with a number of different factors beyond the season and the ecological environment they inhabited. While familial, political, and economic ties among some groups favoured diffusion in certain directions, there were also buffer zones, and even outright hostilities, between some bands that tended to hinder the progress of epidemics in others.
3 This pattern of frequent introductions from external sources of disease was repeated wherever the Spanish established bases of operation in the New World. For instance, at least twenty-five localized and eight widespread epidemics occurred in Guatemala between 1519-20 and 1632. Likewise, epidemics appear to have been common in Ecuador during the sixteenth century. In the more densely populated parts of New Spain, some of these afflictions became diseases of childhood. 4 The repeated reintroduction of afflictions from Europe and elsewhere and their circulation through colonial Spanish territories, combined with the eventual shift to endemicity in some more populous areas, meant that Mesoamerica soon developed into a potent disease pool.
Others fled northward to James Bay. As more and more people travelled into the area to the north and west of Lake Michigan, large refugee villages emerged of mixed affiliation, including key communities along the shores of Lake Superior. These villages proved vulnerable to the ravages of the Old World diseases, and no doubt the flood of people travelling from the east posed a significant risk for the spread of such disease. 43 These raids had a significant impact on the patterns of movement in eastern North America.