Indian-American Technology Stasis It Is Term Paper

  • Length: 5 pages
  • Sources: 2
  • Subject: Native Americans
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #53132194

Excerpt from Term Paper :

The introduction of various kinds of technology for the railroad, cattle ranching and mining of gold and silver, and ecological disturbance resulting from agrarianism were among the major factors in the near-extinction of the buffalo. Permanent railroad tracks, the depletion of trees for railroad ties and bridges and the decrease in wild animal population marked the lasting foreign presence in the Native West. Recent estimates revealed that there were 15-60 million buffaloes before the Europeans settled in 1500s. The animal population was severely depleted by the construction of the transcontinental railroad to the Western homeland of Plain Indian tribes. The buffalo was said to have reach near-extinction by the end of the 1870s when it numbered less than 1,000. Rapid American expansion in less than 50 years was behind it and other dismal results to the Continent (Fixico).

IV. Cost: But more and more evidence has been coming up, which proves that the Native Americans had their own developed culture and technology drawn from their natural environment. At least three Native American civilizations attest to this. Some of their technologies were even better than the Europeans'.

The Maya Civilization

Mayan cities were said to have existed for more than three centuries by the year 500 and at peak economic prosperity (Smitha 2010). The Mayas devised their own complex hieroglyphics, which has yet to be fully deciphered today. It consisted of words formed from combinations of almost 800 signs. They also had an advanced form of mathematics and astronomy and the world's most accurate calendar up to the present. The Mayas could predict solar and lunar eclipses. The Mayas were mostly farmers who planted maize, beans, squash and chili peppers, cotton and cacao. They highest gods were Itzamna and Ix Chel, the parents of other gods. They also had the rain god Chac and Kukulkan, the serpent god of the ruling caste (Smitha).

Among Mayan cities were Copan, Piedra Negras and Tikal until the 9th century (Smitha 2010). Their slash-and-burn agriculture allowed only two to five years cultivation and so was ineffective. Population growth pushed agricultural fields to replace natural forest and led to much soil erosion. The Mayas probably had problems with water supply. Most of the people used water ponds as source of drinking water. Their lack of food supply could have resulted in wars, which were a preoccupation among Mayan lords. Wars could have also brought in pests and infestation by mosquitoes and disease. But complete abandonment of their cities is attributed to the lack of food (Smitha).

The Aztec Civilization

The Mexica Aztecs were a marginal tribe who inhabited the edge of Lake Texcoco in the Valley of Mexico around the year 1250 (Birklid 2010). They lived by hunting and gathering and without a culture of their own at the start (Smitha 2010). All fertile land was already occupied in Chapultapec. The occupants mocked them for their barbaric ways and drove them to a swampy region inhabited by snakes and lizards. But their natural resourcefulness turned their adversity into a blessing. They built terraces on hills previously not farmable. They constructed dikes and chinampas, floating gardens on swamp and placed mud from canals into mats. They planted trees and grew crops into a scale large enough to sustain an increasing population. Seeing their success, they built a community called Tenochtitlan in the midst of lush vegetation and water. Their progress impressed their neighbors (Smitha).

The Aztecs had a well-structured and highly codified government, led by a very powerful emperor (Birklid 2010). He strictly required taxes from those he conquered. Then distributed land to his people, especially the warriors. The Aztecs became the largest empire in Mexico by 1473 through conquest of neighboring tribes. The capital, Tehnochtitlan, was described as a beautiful city, consisting of pyramids, long floating roads, aqueducts, brisk marketplaces and about a hundred thousand residents (Birklid).

The Aztecs used a 365-day calendar, similar to the one used by the Mayans (Birklid 2010). They used symbols to write and create sentences. Their most important god was white-faced Quetzacuatl, the god of intelligence and creation (Birklid).

They engaged in regional politics and entered into alliances with neighboring tribes, who were also expanding (Birklid 2010). These allies were the Tepanecs of Azcapotzalco, northwest of Tenochtitlan. They had skilled warriors and skilled diplomats. In 1428, they

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