What is the importance of Columbian Exchange?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I would say that the previous thoughts were well constructed and very thorough.  In my mind, the Columbian Exchange represents the essence of the historical narrative.  I think that this is really powerful.  It depicts the narrative between the powerful and the powerless.  It is the story between those who are deemed as “the winners” and those who are subjugated by them.  I think that the symbolic importance of the Columbian Exchange highlights that there can be little hope of gaining a “consensus” view of history, in that for each step of creation, an act of destruction accompanies it.  Few would deny that the Columbus voyage and the Columbian exchange had tremendous benefits for Europe.  Yet, the destruction wrought to the indigenous people of the New World compels a narrative that encompasses both experiences.  In this light, the Columbian Exchange becomes an amazingly powerful metaphor for understanding and teaching history.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The major things that make the Columbian Exchange important in my opinion are

  • It brought infectious diseases to the New World.  This is the most important impact because the introduction of these diseases is what killed off huge percentages of the Native American population.
  • On the more positive side, it allowed for the mixing of resources from the two "worlds."  You had American crops (notably corn, potatoes, chocolate and tobacco being "discovered" by the people from the Old World.  This changed European diets in important ways.
  • The Exchange also altered the way of life of Native Americans forever.  Even groups of people who did not directly contact the first Europeans were changed.  For example, it was this exchange that led to the introduction of horses to the Plains Indians and allowed them to create their culture that was marked by such things as buffalo hunting from horseback.
Yojana_Thapa's profile pic

Yojana_Thapa | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted on

Columbian Exchange is a term that refers to the exchange of plants and animals between the New World and Europe following the discovery of America in 1492. New World Crops such as tomatoes, corn, and potatoes had a dramatic effect on the European diet. At the same time the Old world domesticated animals such as horses, cows, and pigs had a major effect on life in the New World.

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