Advanced American Indians

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Thermopylae, Mar 31, 2005.

  1. Thermopylae : VIDEO

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    Hey all. New to these forums, but Althisting has been one of my favorite things. It's one of those fun things for the historically-inclined to do in bad weather, you know? ;)

    So I was thinking: What would the world look like had the American Indians not fallen so far behind technologically-speaking? Guns, Germs, and Steel offers many reasons as to why things are, and the major reason is because there were NO animals to domesticate. None that could do anything more than serve as food or help one hunt. No oxen, donkeys, or horses for that matter.

    So we need to alter history a little bit (it's just what we althistorians do best, no?). All you need is to somehow introduce a species that would diverge into donkey and horse. And just to make things interesting, we'll put some oxen in the new world too. We can assume that the new world civilizations would develop in the same fashion as the old world ones. And indeed, this is exactly what they did. But then the old world civs got horses, they had bronzeworking, ironworking, yadda yadda yadda.

    I have little idea as to how this world would look in detail, but we can make some general inferences. The European powers would reach the new world and find a people not backwards and suitable for backstabbery and infecting with old world diseases, but a people (or peoples) who were technologically on-par with them, or at least in the neighborhood (technologically-speaking). How would the European powers react to this?

    Well, if all of history is an indicator, the answer is complicated. Some nations may see these Indians as prime trading partners. Others, more hell-bent on conquest (Got Spaniards?) would probably forge alliances with some, and through a comlicated process, slowly gain territory in the Americas. In the end, a Colombian discovery of America (read: the discoverer, not the coffee style) would result in a strange mix of a geopolitical climate. Some elements are more peaceful, while others *sidewards glance to the ruins of Tenoochtitlan would be way more violent.

    But we are getting ahead of ourselves. As anybody who cares to know should know, it is the Vikings who created the first European settlement in America (Newfoundland colony). But, within a decade, a people the Vikings refer to as 'Skraelings' forced them out. Obviously, the Skraelings were American Indians. The Vikings never came back, and why should they? After all, the Vikings are better at town-sacking and monastery-plundering rather than colony-building and living a ho-hum life on the outskirts of the known world. But, this world is different, alot different.

    The Vikings would stumble upon nations about as rich and far more exotic than the nations of Europe. What's that spell? P-L-U-N-D-E-R! Hearing of these nations to the west, the Vikings would commit thousands of warriors to pillaging the American eastern shore, revitalizing the economies of the viking chiefdoms with thousands in gold and silver and shiny things. Then one must consider if the nations of Europe would hear of this new world, triggering a far-earlier age of discovery. Maybe, maybe...

    Before I leave you, we should also consider the borders of these Amerindian kingdoms. One must consider the terrain of America. On the easern coast, the area is heavily-wooded and in some areas, there is marsh. Or at least, before the Europeans came here. This would result in a few medium-sized kingdoms, probably with mostly-infantry armies. Cavalry doesn't do too well in the aforementioned conditions.

    As we press westward, we have the Great Lakes region. One can expect a few very competitive kingdoms , some more militaristic than others but for the most part, these are mercantile nations. New World Carthages, so-to-speak. Perhaps a proverbial Rome rises to conquer all the lakes, I don't know.
    Then we have the great plains. Wide expanses of flat terrain=big countries, big potential for large empires. One can expect to see a few big nations in this region.

    After than we have the Rocky mountains, where the empires of the plains end, and a series of balkanized, squabbling kingdoms begins. If Classical Greece is an indicator, it takes a lot of manpower and striking at the right moment to forge an empire in a mountainous region. The size of these kingdoms range from small to tiny, or if a proverbial Alexander the Great rises up, some larger nations decaying back into small ones.

    Beyond the Rockies you have the American west coast. The California valley is an immensely fertile region, and it is something that causes peace. Why fight when you have all your needs met? But as population expands, one people will need more food than another people, so what is the solution? Conquest, vassalage, and satellitization. Not to mention the area will be steadily hampered by raids from ambitious warlords from the rocky mountains. In the northwest, one can also expect to see small to medium merantile nations, but these nations are grand seafarers. Perhaps a series of kingdoms paying tribute in gold and manpower to one nation, a real Carthaginian-style empire, no?

    So what do y'all speculate? I'd like to see maps drawn up, or something. Anybody care to expand on this scenario?
     
  2. zoomar Curmudgeon

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    I hate to squelch this field of speculation, which is right down my professional alley, but this general topic has been discussed on this board a lot before. You might want to go into the archive and pull up an old one, see if you are duplicating a lot of previous speculation, and start presenting your ideas if you feel you have thought of something new and different. You probably have, but it never hurts to check.

    Welcome aboard!
     
  3. Thermopylae : VIDEO

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    I could have done that, but in my experience, bumping a thread that's been dead for over a week is a little taboo. Just start up another thread, discussion will hum along very nicely...
     
  4. MerryPrankster Well-Known Member

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    Yes, but he's crammed all of the ideas into one thread, so we could keep it going for a LOONG time rather than have short 5-10 post threads on one individual topic.

    I like Greece analogy (the Rocky Mountains).
     
  5. Othniel Comrade General-Secretary

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    I have some reseach plied up in an ASB thread called Arizona Rain if you want a few links. Also try the Peublo chanlange.
     
  6. Thermopylae : VIDEO

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    My guess is that one of the more prominent nations in the new world will be the Mississippian Mound-Building Culture. They were very advanced for their time, and in this world they have horses and oxen, etc. They have a high population as well.

    I think I'll post a follow-up soon, concerning Mesoamerica, Canada, and South America in this strange world...
     
  7. Othniel Comrade General-Secretary

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    The Cahokia? yeah they are pretty cool but their demise is a mystery.
     
  8. Grey Wolf Writer, Poet, Publisher, Cat-sitter

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    Well, only a sort of mystery

    It seems more likely that they suffered from the 'usual' problem where a settled population which has nowhere else to go outgrows its settlement. Being settled means that they exhaust the land around them

    Grey Wolf
     
  9. Historico Member

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    It would be interesting to have your POD, to have Lake Bonneville and the other Pilocence Americas to still be in that state, with Natives similar to OTL's coming up with powerful Old World type civiliazations
     
  10. Redbeard Banned

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    The "Skrællinger" told about in the sagas were met in Greenland (Iniuts), but it is very disputed if it was the Skrællinger that had the Norsemen give up the Greenland settlements, probably life just got too hard and one day the last left for Europe. But I agree in your point about Greenland and Vinland (N. America) holding few temptations when Europe lay open for plunder. It is very telling that the first inhabitiors of Iceland and Greenland were refugees from vendettas in Norway and Iceland respectively - they had nowhere else to go.

    Regards

    Steffen Redbeard
     
  11. Thermopylae : VIDEO

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    Skraelings were in Greenland and not in Vinland (Newfoundland)? Hmm. Well, either way, I'm sure natives still gave the Vikings a damned-hard time. I'm going to make a follow-up post, going into some detail on the major powers of the region, but the shift will be to lands south of the Rio Grande. There'll be a little on Canada as well.

    Don't be afraid to speculate, guys. I'm starting to draw-up a map myself. What I'd really like to see discussion on is my point made about an earlier Age of Discovery, and how this would affect Europe and conversely, the world....
     
  12. Hendryk Banned

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    Feel free to do it here. "Thread necromancy", as some of us like to call it, is something of a habit, and it has its advantages.
     
  13. Ivan Druzhkov Aspiring Apparatchik

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    Have you looked at Dale Cozort's AH site here? He's got a few good scenarios on how to give the natives a leg up. I heartily recommend "Llamas survive in the Appalachians" as a starting point.
     
  14. Thermopylae : VIDEO

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    That's a very interesting site. I saw it before, but I didn't see that particular TL. Hmm. But a major component of my idea is if the Indians were able to get a hold of horses and oxen. Oxen are, IIRC, better draft animals than llamas (can lug heavier things), so I wanted to include them as well.

    I've started work on a map. Here is the eastern shore. The tribes are as follows: Penobscot, Delaware, Powhatan, Iroquois, Huron, Erie, Miami, Ojibwa, Choctaw, Cahokia, Cherokee, Shawnee, and Penobscot. I think I have something good going on here. Gimme your input, guys.

    america2.GIF
     
  15. eschaton Muckraker & Rabblerouser

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    If North America had domesticated animals, not only would it be more advanced, but the tribes would look very little like OTL. Consider how many languages and cultures were replaced in the Old World due to 'barbarians' on horseback, or settlement by a group with better agriculture and animal husbandry. You would probably have whatever area animals are domesticated in have a 'wave' of population expanding outwards, and the majority of languages and cultures that Europe found when it came would be closely related.
     
  16. Diamond Banned

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    Welcome to the boards, Thermopylae.

    One thing that I'd like to point out is that if the North American natives were able to develop on par with Europe, the civilizations we'd see would bear little or no resemblance to those of OTL. IMO, there would be no Iroquois, no Sioux, no Pawnee as we know them. And even if there were, they would retain their own tribal/national names. Many of the names we take for granted are French or English corruptions of what other tribes called the tribes in question.

    I think the thing to do would be to research the very earliest cultures in North America that we have any solid info on, and then extrapolate forwards from there. You can't just take the Hurons and Penobscot and say 'what would they look like if they had better tech and horses', because if horses et al had been there from the beginning, totally different civilizations would've been born.

    As far as the comments about the Cahokia exhausting their land, that is very true. But if whatever civilization that existed in that area in the ATL 'grew up' with beasts of burden, crop rotation, and so on, they'd likely be there for centuries after they died out in OTL.
     
  17. Historico Member

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    I totally agree, This sort of Timeline will take Mucho research...but I still believe It could be pulled off. Cahokia seems like it's still is the Dominant power in the East...I can't wait to see how the Missippians evolve with these Beasts of Burden.
     
  18. zoomar Curmudgeon

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    Me to. Most of the historic tribes like the Iroquois, Cherokee, etc in north america were in large part fairly recent amalgamations of people brought together or dislocated by earlier population shifts, epidemics, and conflicts brought about by initial European contacts. As said, many of these names are also European-derived. To have tribes with these names develop in the absence of European impacts is unlikely.

    I have the following observations:

    (1) The most most realistic way to have independent native states develop in north america capable of withstanding European colonialism is to change the timing of major European contacts. Provide enough minimal early contacts (maybe even pre-1492 or even pre-Viking) to let the native people become exposed to old world diseases, suffer epidemics, and then bounce back with immunity. Then provide time for native people to learn and adapt some elements of technology from such minimal contacts prior to the major, eventual influx of Europeans. The real PoD should be in Europe or Asia, not the Americas.

    (2) Having MesoAmerica play a major role in the spread of civilization into north america may be necessary, as the presence and expansion of complex civilizations often induces similar reactions on its periphery (like the US Southwest and Southeast). Trade is also important. The so-called Cahokia (actually more accurately Mississippian) culture was most likely a network of small independent chiefdoms linked by long-distance trade throughout virtually the entire Mississippi valley and its major tributaries. If you further link this trade to the high cultures of central mexico, it helps this along.

    (3) I really like the Viking angle - especially as the basic source for the introduction of metallurgy and draft animals into the new world. Quite frankly, if you get local states with iron technology and calvary and immunity against old world diseases, you really don't need gunpowder to let them resist outright conquest when gun-toting Spaniards and Englishmen show up in force.
     
  19. Thermopylae : VIDEO

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    Ah! I completely forgot to take into account that these tribes wouldn't even develop! :eek: Oy.

    As for diseases, we could easily butterfly some immunities into these Amerindians. Or maybe the Vikings would serve as "innoculations" for the Indians, I dunno.

    As for Vikings actually bringing metallurgy? No, I can't have that, because the Vikings would have little want to plunder a people who dodn't even have metalwork (no shinies). Nope, this sort of timeline is going to have Amerindians who discovered their own metalworking methods.

    There's another thing we should take into account. How would the people of thr plains develop? Plains are not grand sources for iron and bronze. Maybe the empires of the plains would have a border with the Rocky Mountains, there should be some metal there.
     
  20. Thermopylae : VIDEO

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