Powerful States

Discussion #1

At the time of the Europeans’ arrival to the Americas, several large and powerful states had emerged, such as the Aztecs and Incas. Hundreds of separate Indian cultures existed speaking about 375 languages. According to some estimates, the total population of America north of the Rio Grande may have been as high as 18 million, while the numbers provided for the Aztec Empire puts them at 10 to 20 million people. These numbers do not take into account the peoples who inhabited the islands of the Caribbean, or those who lived in South America. While a total count is not available, there is no doubt that as a result of contact with Europeans the indigenous populations in the Americas were seriously depleted.

In order to prepare for this discussion forum:

o You must first read the essay available at this link: The American Population Before Columbus

o Review and identify the relevant sections of Chapter 1 that support your discussion.

After you have completed your reading, post your answers to only ONE of the following questions.


1.Historians have been unable to reach a consensus as to the actual size of the Native American population in the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans. Discuss why they disagree.

2.In your opinion, is knowing how many Native peoples resided in the Americas important, or should historians be addressing other issues? Explain your position.

In order to earn the full credit points for this assignment, students must discuss at least one question, and respond to a fellow student’s postings:

  • Directly and completely to the question that you selected. Clearly and accurately explain your answer based on factual information contained in the readings. Make sure that all statements are supported with facts from the readings (80 points).
  • Students must respond to at least one fellow student’s posting and discuss the reason(s) for their agreement or disagreement, with the arguments that are presented. You must address specific points, and support your response with facts from the readings and other sources. (20 points).
  • Students can choose to respond to any posting, they do have to respond to a posting that discusses the question they addressed.

Reminder: Please make sure to comply with all Netiquette Guidelines listed in the Getting Started module.

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