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Why did epidemic diseases have such a devastating effect on the Native American population in the first years of contact?

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Europeans had been exposed to the diseases they carried and had, over hundreds of years, developed a natural resistance to most of them.

The indigenous people of North America were isolated from much of the rest of the world. As a result, they had not been previously exposed to the illnesses brought across the Atlantic Ocean by the colonists. The rate of death declined over time as they began to develop resistance to the illnesses.

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