Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

A Population History of the Huron-Petun, A.D. 500-1650

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

A Population History of the Huron-Petun, A.D. 500-1650

Article excerpt

Gary Warrick, A Population History of the Huron-Petun, A.D. 500-1650 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 296pp. Cased. £55. ISBN 978-0-5214-4030-1.

Native American demography is an area of great controversy. Most archaeologists once believed that human settlement only began around 10,000 BC. However, some archaeologists now believe settlement may have begun as early as 30,000 BC. Perhaps the most controversial area of native American demography is the size of the pre-contact population. The first estimate of one million by anthropologist James Mooney was published posthumously in 1928. However, from the mid-1960s, this figure was challenged by Henry Dobyns and others, who argued that it did not take into account the impact of virgin soil epidemics on the indigenous population of North America. As a result the pre-contact population could have been as high as 18 million, suggesting massive depopulation. One supporter of the Dobyns hypothesis, David Stannard, has described it as an 'American holocaust'. As Gary Warrick observes in this book, the outcome of some contemporary First Nations' land claims could be affected if the Dobyns hypothesis was confirmed by empirical evidence. On the other hand, from the 1980s, Dean Snow and others have argued that European disease did not spread far inland before the foundation of European settlement colonies which included children.

Warrick suggests that the Dobyns hypothesis needs to be verified by empirical case studies from disparate regions of the Americas. This book is an empirical case study of the population history of the Huron-Petun of southern Ontario during the period AD 500-1650. In the book, the Huron-Petun are referred to by their preferred name of Wendat- Tionontaté out of respect for Indigenous readers. …

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