European exploration and colonization of the New World affected the peoples of the Americas greatly. The reason why there are barely any South American natives still alive today was caused by the insatiability greed for land/gold by the European explorers. Cortez's annihilation of the Aztec Empire, Pizarro destruction of the Inca Empire, and the disease epidemics spread from the white settlers, brought deaths to thousands of the aboriginal people.
One major blow to the natives of the Americas was Cortez's invasion of the Aztec Empire. In less than two years Cortez conquered the Aztec Kingdom and enslaved the people to mine gold and work for him. Most of the aborigines had not died of war, they were too terrified of the Spaniards on horses, with shiny armor, and they just threw down their weapons. The majority of the aborigines died from the work they were forced to do.
"How many of the Indians died in extracting gold for him," wrote the Spanish missionary Bartolome de Las Casas, "God will have kept a better account than I have."
As Cortez obliterated the Aztecs, Francisco Pizarro did the equivalent to the Inca Empire. The Incas were very isolated, so they did not hear about the Aztec's downfall. Pizarro had captured Atauhualpa, emperor of the Incas, and demanded that Atauhualpa convert to Christianity. When the emperor refused the Spaniards slaughtered 2,000 Incas. Then Atauhualpa offered a room full of gold for his freedom. When the room was filled, Atauhualpa was executed. Again a great culture was decimated in a few years because of these European conquests.
A final reason for the demise of so many natives was disease. Many diseases that the Spaniards carried were at risk to the indigenous people. Ailments easily multiplied in communities of natives, because they...