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🚀  Thematic Guides

🐎  Unit 4: 1800-1848

🌎  Unit 7: 1890-1945

🥶  Unit 8: 1945-1980

📲  Unit 9: 1980-Present

📋  Short Answer Questions (SAQ)

1.4 Columbian Exchange, Spanish Exploration, and Conquest



⏱️  2 min read

written by

Will Pulgarin

will pulgarin

Columbian Exchange

The Age of Exploration had a tremendous impact on the Native American populations of both North and South America. Diseases such as mumps, measles, typus, and smallpox ravaged the Native American populations. The Taino people, who greeted Columbus in San Salvador, numbered approximately 300,000 in 1492. By 1508, fewer than 100,000 survivors lived on the island. 

The Native Americans did not submit easily to colonization. Many fought back and rebelled against their capturers. Nevertheless, the combination of diseases and less advanced weaponry, led to the demise of the Native American populations in the New World. 

🎥Watch: AP US History - Interactions with Europeans and Native Americans Economically, Columbus' voyages spurred on an age of increased exchange and interactions. The Columbian Exchange is the term used to describe the flow of ideas, people, plants, animals, technology, and disease that took place because of Columbus' discovery of the New World.


Image Courtesy of Will Pulgarin

Native vs. European Views

Native Americans 



Regarded the land as source of life, not as a commodity to be sold.

View of Land

Believed that the land should be tamed and in private ownership of land.

Thought of the natural world as filled with spirits. Some believed in one supreme being.

Religious Beliefs

The Roman Catholic Church was the dominant religious institution in western Europe. The pope had great political and spiritual authority.

Bonds of kinships ensured the continuation of tribal customs. The basic unit of organization among all Native American groups was the family, which included aunts, uncles, cousins, and other relatives. 

Social Organization


Europeans respected kinship, but the extended family was not as important for them.  Life centered around the nuclear family (father and mother and their children).

Assignments were based on gender, age, and status. Depending on the region, some women could participate in the decision-making process.

Division of Labor




Men generally did most of the field labor and herded livestock. Women did help in the fields, but they were mostly in charge of child care and household labor.

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