Native Americans and the Colonists

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How many Native Americans were killed by the colonists?

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In the 169 years between the founding of Britain's American colonies and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, colonists killed thousands of Native Americans. At the start of colonization, an estimated eighteen million natives inhabited the areas north of the Rio Grande. By the beginning of 1900, that estimate was less than 300,000. In the beginning, most of the deaths caused by the colonists were caused indirectly through disease.

Experts estimate ninety percent of the Native American population died from the illnesses brought from Europe, such as measles, smallpox, and the flu. Another indirect cause of tribal deaths occurred from starvation and the harsh conditions of enslavement.

Violent conflicts between the natives and colonists lead to the remaining deaths. For example, King George II of England put a bounty on scalps, paying settlers for each Native American killed.

Some of the most notable battles between the two groups include:

  • French and Indian War, 1754–1763
  • Powhatan Wars, 1610–1646
  • King Philip's War, 1675–1676
  • Pequot War, 1636–1637
  • Pontiac's Rebellion, 1763–1768

These are just some of the most well-known wars in history. There were dozens of small conflicts throughout the areas surrounding the colonies. There were also many Native American casualties during the Revolutionary War, with different tribes aligning themselves with both sides.

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