...third and final part of an interview with Indian Historian and Mi'kmaq elder Dr. Daniel Paul...
Paul: All the societies in the Americas, with very few exceptions, were built on genocide, on the blood of the indigenous people. People were wiped out. Some people put the estimate for the Caribbean Taíno people, for instance, as being somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-10 million when Columbus landed there, but within 50 years they were practically extinct.
So when you are looking at the overall total, it is almost unbelievable, and they talk about barbarism, people don’t discuss it too often but the Spaniards were using human flesh to feed dogs. And scalp proclamations were one of the favorite things of the English here in the Americas, putting a price on the heads of men, women and children. And then the spreading the smallpox was another thing they used quite liberally in trying to eliminate populations. And then simple starvation, after they destroyed most of the food sources of the indigenous people and trading patterns, the people lived in a state of malnutrition and many were starving to death, and when you get to that state, even a common cold could be fatal to you.
So, our population in the Americas was reduced, I would say, almost by 90% by time it was all over. And even in this day and age the Mi’kmaq, for instance, in Nova Scotia were down to 1,400 in 1850 and that stayed around the same until the 1940s, and then the Canadian government began to get a little bit of a conscience, or what have you, and started improving health services and food rations and so forth and so on. And today our population is up to about 25,000 now. We’re slowly but surely making a comeback.