How Many?

  • A. J. Jaffe


We shall never know for certain how many people lived in what are now the United States and Canada, at any time before the late nineteenth century We do not know how many were here when Leif Ericson reached Newfoundland in the eleventh century, nor in October 1492 when Columbus first landed. We can only speculate. The native people of these two countries were never counted in a national census prior to the latter part of the nineteenth century.


Nineteenth Century Indian Population Seventeenth Century Sixteenth Century Mixed Ancestry 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Information for Canada from Britannica World Data, 1989 Book oj the Year and the J 981 Census of Agriculture, Catalogue 96901, Table 1. Information for the United States from 1989 Statistical Abstract, Tables 1,078 and 1,112. These sources are reasonably comparable for the two countries, although possible differences in counting and measuring procedures may have increased or decreased the “true” numbers.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    There is a voluminous history of Spanish activities, too large to detail here; see Chavez (1973), Kessel (1979), Clissold (1962), and Day (1964) as starters, plus the Columbia Encyclopedia. Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    U.S. Bureau of the Census, Historical Statistics of the United States . . . to 1957, Table series D 57–71.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    This literature is voluminous. For quick overviews see, for example, Ganteaume (1986) and Viola (1974), especially Chapter 11.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    The literature on this subject is enormous. See, for example, Mooney (1978) and McNeill (1976).Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    This account is based on information in the Columbia Encyclopedia, “Railroads,” and Handbook of the North American Indians, Vol. 4.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    For a quick check, look into the 1916 Statistical Abstract of the United States. Table 8 presents the Commissioner of Indian Affairs’ numbers for 1880, 1890, 1900, and 1916. Compare these with the census numbers.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    The 1960 U.S. census reported 520,000 Amerindians. The Bureau of Indian Affairs reported 345,000. See the BIA annual reports on population and labor (photocopy). In subsequent years the census count consistently is greater than the numbers released by the BIA.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    For an interesting account of census taking in seventeenth century New France (Lower Canada) see Pelletier (prior to 1931). Note that even in those days census officials were criticized by high-ranking government officials for not enumerating “enough” people, pp. 28ff.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    For a summary of some of these conflicts and wars, see Waldman (1985), Chapter 5.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lower (1975); also Encyclopedia Canadiana; Kalbach and McVey (1971).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. J. Jaffe
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Columbia UniversityNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.National Museum of the American IndianNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations