By UN Environment
When Christopher Columbus arrived in the Caribbean in the late 15th century, he and his crew had spent months sleeping on a hard and dirty deck—most likely infested with vermin. It is no surprise that the islands seemed like paradise. Not only did the sailors finally feel the land beneath their feet again, but the indigenous people slept comfortably in nets between the trees, rather than on the hard floor. It was a big difference from the sleepless months of hardship the sailors had just endured. On his trip back to Spain, Columbus took these indigenous nets with him, and before long sailors were relying on hammocks to stay comfortable on overnight voyages.
Hammocks are not the only invention that we have thanks to indigenous nations and communities. Over half of the crops now in cultivation across the globe were domesticated by indigenous peoples in the Americas, including corn, which alone provides nearly a quarter of human nutrition worldwide. In the medical field, a wide range of medications exist partially thanks to traditional medicine from around the world, including several pain relievers, drugs for dieting and antioxidant and antibacterial products.