How good were the Native American mathematicians? How developed was their math before colonization?
In Southern and Central American civilizations, like those of the Inca, Aztec, and particularly the Maya, mathematics was extremely advanced for their time. The Maya were one of the first known civilizations to develop the use of zero along with the use of numerical systems that allowed for number placement, a technique that was not developed in western societies until much later.
These techniques largely arose due to the deep interest in astronomy within these societies and their extensive ability to predict seasons and create complex calendars. Within Northern America, however, there is little evidence to suggest that mathematics surpassed basic concepts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. In all, mathematics within advanced societies such as those of the Inca, Aztec, and Maya had surpassed those of Europe at the time, while most Northern American cultures placed no importance on the discipline.