Vaccinating Native Americans

Or Guns, Germs and Steel…without the germs.

So I’ve been reading a bit about the early European-Native American contacts, I dunno about you but it always seems like the native inhabitants of the Americas really got shafted by history. As if meeting colonialist Europeans wasn’t bad enough and lagging behind technologically, they also get the real kick in the teeth and get decimated by Old World diseases. Even relatively benign contact ended with death, reading about the English in Virginia where after meetings in villages people would start to die.

So my question is this - what if the epidemics hadn’t happened, if via wacky time travel hypothetical every native inhabitant were vaccinated against any and all communicable pathogens Europeans might spread to them. Europeans OP, nerfed.

How does history change? Do any Native American nations survive to present day, or do European guns and steel do the job just as well? One thing that changes I think would be the slave trade, originating in the need for labour in the New World in the absence of locally available slaves. So we might never have rock 'n roll.

Your thoughts?

My guess is, the result looks more like Asia or Africa. The European imperialists didn’t go for the genocide-and-replace version of colonization in places where the population was large and not confined to an island, presumably because it would be too much effort. So they’d have set themselves up as overlords over the masses of non-Europeans, and when imperialism became unprofitable withdrawn and left their former subjects to pick up the pieces.

The usual pattern seems to be that pre-conquest nations re-establish themselves, so there’d probably be a resurgent Inca & Mayan nations and maybe an Aztec one. Although how like their pre-conquest selves they’d be is up in the air.

Also, the process of expansion is probably much slower, since a non-decimated populace can much better resist.

As for slaves, as I understand it part of the attraction of using black slaves was that they couldn’t just run back to the Indians like Indian slaves could. So black slaves were imported to the US, and Indian slaves exported. The same pattern might well hold in the new timeline.

I don’t think guns and steel would have done the trick against the Inca Empire, for one. European countries weren’t a unified bloc, and the Incas could well have allied with the British to get weapons to fight the Spanish, or something. For that matter they could have gotten Spanish horses and then bred their own, like the Great Plains native americans did.

I wonder how history would have been different if Polynesians got to South America in larger numbers than they (probably) did, thereby exposing the indigenous peoples to Old World diseases a few centuries before Columbus. Maybe then they would have experienced the mass die-off earlier and been somewhat resistant by the time the Spanish arrived.

Remember that NA’s had diseases of their own passed back to the Europeans.

Now what the Euros could have done is more to teach them how to deal with the diseases but they didnt and just let them all die off so they could easily take their lands.

there was only one disease that went back to Europe-syphillis-and that is controversial. And the Europeans didn’t know how to deal with their diseases any more than the Indians did. See Manning’s 1491. It was far more a straight-forward case of natural immunity. The European’s had it (enough to survive, but note many Europeans died from smallpox etc) and the Indians didn’t. There was nothing the Europeans could have taught the Indians that would have helped.
Outside of a time machine traveler bringing 20th century vaccines to 15th century America-and administering millions of doses-the result was inevitable. :frowning:

Yup. Smallpox, for example, remained a killer for everybody until inoculation & then vaccination were invented. (Inoculation was already known in other parts of the world. An Englishwoman brought the idea back from Turkey. Cotton Mather got the idea from his African slave; he oversawa trial conducted by a Boston MD. Inoculation was not adopted in the Colonies either because smallpox was considered God’s Righteous Scourge–or because other Bostonians disliked Mather. Later, George Washington ordered wholesale inoculation of the Continental Army.)

One advantage the Europeans did have: Survivors of previous epidemics. Some infected people would live if they got simple nursing–food & water. European populations always had immune survivors who could care for the patients. “Virgin” populations had nobody…

The Polynesians also lacked most Old World diseases and similarly died in large numbers when they were first exposed.

History could have been different if contacts had happened earlier and over a longer period of time. For example, if the Norse had actually established small trading posts or colonies along the coast of eastern North America after 1000 AD, or if the Chinese did something similar later on on the west coast.

Oh I disagree. They would often burn down homes ore entire towns in order to stop disease. They would also burn a dead persons belongings.

Whereas with NA’s they would all stand around the sick person and after they died, would pass around their old clothes and blankets and such.

Really? You were there to witness this?

Well, in fact- they did. The Inca’s had not been ravaged by various diseases, like the North American natives later were.