Hooray for science!
Don Boudreaux, over at Cafe Hayek, skewers the proposition that pre-Columbian Native Americans lived harmoniously with nature (emphasis mine):
Pre-Columbian peoples lived simply, to be sure, but let’s stop mistaking ignorance and poverty with harmony. It’s an utter myth — we might say an urban myth — that primitive peoples lived with nature harmoniously. Nature devastated them. Nature battered them into early graves. Their ignorance of nature prevented them from achieving much material wealth. To dance to imaginary rain gods or to chant and pray for a child dying of bacterial infection is not to live harmoniously with nature; it is to live most inharmoniously. Nature is doing its thing — failing to water the crops, growing bacteria within a child’s lungs — while human beings who are as ignorant of nature as nature is of human beings, moan, chant, pray, dance, build totems, burn leaves and twigs, all in fruitless, inharmonious efforts to solve the problems.
It is we today, with our knowledge of how to irrigate fields using science and engineering, and how to make and administer antibiotics, who live harmoniously with nature. We don’t demand miracles. We don’t expect nature to change its logic simply because we arrogantly wish it to do so. We accept nature’s logic and work with it.
You should read the whole thing.