"The slaughter by settlers of European descent is a well-known ecological
disaster. An estimated eight million bison roamed the United States in 1870,
but just 20 years later fewer than 500 of the iconic animals remained.
The mass slaughter provided a brief economic boon to some newly arriving
settlers, hunters, and traders of the Great Plains who sold the hides and bones
for industrial uses.
In contrast, Indigenous peoples whose lives depended on the bison suffered a
devastating economic shock.
The new research in the Review of Economic Studies
quantifies both the
immediate and long-term economic impacts of the loss of the bison on Indigenous
peoples whose lives depended on the animals.
Changes in the average height of bison-related people is one striking example
of the fallout. Adult height across a population is one proxy of wealth and
health given that it can be affected by nutrition and disease, particularly
early in development.
Bison-reliant Indigenous men stood around six feet tall on average, or about an
inch taller than Indigenous men who were not bison-reliant.
“They were among the tallest people in the world in the mid-19th century,” says
coauthor Maggie Jones, assistant professor of economics at Emory University.
“But after the rapid near-extinction of the bison, the height of the people
born after the slaughter also rapidly declined.”
Within one generation, the average height of Indigenous peoples most impacted
by the slaughter dropped by more than an inch.
“That’s a major drop, but given the magnitude of the economic shock it’s not
necessarily surprising,” Jones says."
Via Rixty Dixet.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics