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Cuba and the Caribbean:
Mural on "Post-Colombian Exchange"

Concepts:

Interdependency, Flora and Fauna, Colonialism, Agriculture

Objectives:

To illustrate the biological and ecological exchanges that have been taking place as soon as Columbus made the Americas known to Europe. The long period of independent development in the Americas had, of course, led to the development of plants and animals which were unique. Upon the arrival of the Spaniards, however, commerce quickly led to an exchange of products which gave rise to new, interdependent material cultures. This process continues up to the present so that today all but a few isolated human groups include in their life styles major imports from other world areas. This project will aid in an understanding of how Latin America began to affect world culture.

Level of Difficulty:

Basic-No great complexity of skills or sophisticated thought involved.

Materials:

Procedure:

Draw or paint a mural-sized map showing the Americas and Europe with the Atlantic Ocean in the center. Paste or draw pictures of plant and animal products native to the Americas and Europe, using a different colored paper for each area. Make two cards for each product. Place one card on the map where the product was found in 1492. Using matching colored lines or yarn indicate the routes of transfer and place the second card at the approximate site of its new home. The project can be expanded to cover Africa and Asia and/or to indicate more recent transfers.

Helpful Hints:

Examples of products to be used:

Latin America to Europe
pumpkins
beans (lima, kidney, string, etc.)
potatoes
maize
tobacco
chocolate
guinea pigs
turkeys
rubber
peanuts
avocados
pineapples
tomatoes
chiggers
measles

 

Europe to Latin America
wheat
melons
onions
grapes (wine)
sugarcane
apples
lettuce
bananas
dandelions, daisies
horses
pigs
cattle
sheep
goats

RESOURCES: Crosby, The Colombian Exchange, 1973.

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