Columbian Exchange
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In 1992 there was an international recognition of the Quincentennial of Columbus' voyage to America. This 500th(1492-1992) anniversary was viewed with disdain and downright hostility by Native American communities. However, before the planned events various academic and government institutions in the Americas and abroad met with scholars and Native American leaders to seek ways to celebrate in a more sensitive spirit to all people. Ultimately, by the time the celebrations took place considerable diffusion and compromise resulted in an emphasis of the effects of one of the most dramatic and influential events in human history. The emphasis tended to focus on the 'Columbian Exchange', a phrase and concept taken from a book written in 1972 by social historian Alfred W. Crosby.  The Columbian Exchange was both biological and cultural.  This exchange and its effects on the world became the focus of the quincentennial. Subsequently, the Columbian Exchange has become a part of  many history texts and courses.

The five hundred years since Columbus arrived in the Caribbean brought many changes to America and the entire world. The most significant change was the the dispossession of Native Americans from most of their native land yet not their total disappearance. It is necessary to make it clear to the public and students that Native Americans are still here and that Native American cultures were as diverse as in the entire world . Further, many of the effects of the Columbian Exchange were not well known or understood, especially contributions made by Native American people.

The exchange of specific things are the most tangible and were narrowed down by historians to the most important five in terms of their biological and cultural impact. Many scholars debated about which should be included on this list, but finally settled on the following as having the most significant impact:

American Corn (Maize)

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Potato

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Horse

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Disease

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Sugar

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The exchange of ideas is more difficult to document and generates more controversy. However various ideas certainly  came into their own during the Columbian Exchange and had a considerable impact on the world that is becoming more globally integrated based on the following ideas:

Liberty

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Corporate Structure

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Ecology

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Copyright S.J. Crouthamel

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Revised 2003