Pandemics Impact on Native Americans

The indigenous peoples of North America experienced a considerable impact on their life after the arrival of the European settlers. The first disease which quickly spread across the indigenous populations was smallpox which came to the continent in the 1600s (Chrystal, 2021). The standard symptoms of the disease included chills, back pain, fever, and rashes. The native populations employed traditional treatments to cure the disease. For instance, they participated in sweat lodge sessions where they steamed willow bark and conifer oils, yet such interventions often made their condition even worse. Eventually, a vaccine was invented, which prevented the rapid spreading of the disease across the continent.

Another pandemic in North America was caused by yellow fever, which came from the refugees from the Caribbean Islands. The yellow fever outbreak happened in 1793 and took the lives of thousands of people (Chrystal, 2021). The symptoms of the condition included yellowing of the person’s skin, bloody vomiting, and fever. Yellow fever affected all people living on the continent, and the native Americans were not an exception. The indigenous people likely used the same approach to treating the disease as before and relied on their traditional remedies. Mosquitoes were the primary transmitters of the disease; therefore, strict mosquito control and the invention of a vaccine eventually solved the problem.

Finally, cholera was the third most significant disease imported into North America before the 1900s. Cholera originally came from India, but since the problems with sanitation were universal across the entire world, it quickly emerged in other countries. Cholera also affected all populations on the continent, including Native Americans. The indigenous peoples tried to cure the disease with traditional medicine, but it was ineffective, which caused a considerable number of deaths (Chrystal, 2021). Although the pandemic ended at the beginning of the 20th century in North America, it still affects many countries in the world.


Chrystal, P. (2021). The history of the world in 100 pandemics, plagues and epidemics. Pen and Sword History.

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