March 21, 2010

Michael Wilcox
Department of Anthropology
Main Quad, Building 50
450 Serra Mall
Stanford University
Stanford, CA 94305-2035

Dear Michael Wilcox:

I have read with interest your essay in Questioning Collapse, the collaborative product of people unhappy with the concept that the only bad things that ever happened to anybody were because of human folly.  Actually, I tend to agree with that assessment, but I don’t think it was environmental mismanagement, and I think that the world currently is making the same old mistake only a lot more so.

(I shall use the term “Native American” since you are comfortable with it.  I confess that I have no better term to offer, but that term does make me squirm.  It refers to Amerigo Vespucci, an explorer of little note but who coined a phrase we still hear: New World.  That term is referred to in the line “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" which is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty.  It has not lost it’s appeal.  So I use Amerigo’s name, but don’t like to all that much.) 

There are a number of explanations on offer for why Native Americans fared so badly when exposed to Europeans.  Obviously environmental mismanagement simply does not hold up.  Native Americans lived for centuries in Long House valley, a place where no European has ever been able to grub out a living.  The Southeast, my own home, was an absolute paradise, and not that long ago.  I have a friend who lives in Georgia who recons that he is the first person ever to live on the hillside where his subdevelopment perches.  It was primordial pine forest according to him.  Sorry.  Before the pine there were cotton plantations, and before that there was a hardwood forest.  Where my own ancestors lived for some centuries there are reports that you could climb a hill and look out for miles underneath the canopy of the forest.  Any time you looked up from your work you could see deer and buffalo browsing.  That didn’t happen by accident.  My personal opinion is that the land had been managed to look like that for thousands of years.

Weapons?  According to Winston Churchill the gun was not clearly superior to the bow and arrow until the battle of Gettysburg; it was just easier to learn.  Infectious diseases?  That only works for one generation.  After that it’s a level playing field. 

Ability to fight?  Give me a break.  Native Americans spent a lot more time learning about it.

From what I read it was fertility.  The Europeans (might I use the term Pale Faces?)  bred like rabbits.  There were more than ten children per couple during the westward expansion.  They were doubling every few years.  The Native Americans were simply buried under a sea of white flesh. 

Perhaps before following the logic further I should remark that I have lived mostly in Florida, where there has been very little friction between Pale Face and Seminole.  I was shocked at the prejudice I found against Native Americans when I went north to school.  If you ask me to come up with the name of a Florida hero without taking much time about it, the name will be Osceola. 

Back on topic.  Why all those Pale Faces?  It’s as simple as it is unknown.  The smaller your gene pool size the more children you will have per couple.  There is evidence on the enclosed DVD and more on the enclosed poster.  Still more is at, where I also post letters to experts such as you. 

As the pioneers moved west, a group would get together and venture into the frontier.  They would settle and have a lot of babies.  In time the population pressure would induce of subset of them to repeat the process.  Century after century their genetic diversity was restricted and fertility remained. 

Native Americans, in contrast, having lived here a long time, had reached a kind of equilibrium.  It wasn’t all one big happy family.  There was tribal warfare.  The warfare restricted the gene pool by making it unsafe to wander away from ones stamping ground.  I understand that there had been a kind of baby boom before the Pale Face, but in the long run things were stable.  Then with the coming of the pioneers the Native Americans had to compete with the vastly more fecund newcomers.  If anything, they had to try to form alliances or to fall back and join others farther west, driving their genetic diversity up and their fertility down. 

The nice thing is that this can be reversed.  My understanding is that the numbers of Native Americans is presently increasing.  That can be encouraged.  It’s just a matter of marrying relative who are close but not too close.  There is no need for tribal warfare, just a need to understand.  And as for the current Pale Face fertility, it is going through the floor.  There is no point in fighting them.  Genetic diversity is doing it for you. 

Of course I am doing my best to warn everybody, but from experience so far, you have little to fear from me.  Keep your mating pools tight and you can do anything you like with the continent after I fail.

If I can clarify further or be of any assistance, I should be happy to oblige.  Please let me know what you think.


M. Linton Herbert MD

There have been 3,634 visitors so far.

Home page.