The instant oatmeal packets I use often have “fun facts” printed on one side – I assume they’re for kids, but I read them anyway. Today, however, I saw one that looked particularly odd:
In 1854 there were 700 people living in California. One hundred twenty-five years later, the same area had a population of 21,520,000.
I don’t think I believe the first figure. California was admitted to the Union in 1850. This means there must have been white people of some kind by that time, and not even Spaniards. Add to that the indigenous population, and a figure of 700 makes no sense: California had at least 53 indigenous languages spoken in its area in pre-Columbian times. Say some had become extinct, leaving only 40 languages, each with 20 speakers from roughly three clans per language. That still yields a figure of 800 Native Americans.
I suspect that the figure given by the oatmeal packet did not figure indigenous people into the number of people living in California but counted only the people counted by the census as permanent residents. Come on: we should be past the point where we neglect to consider people of another “colour” human beings just because the census of the time did.