Europeans And Native Americans

In the year of 1492, the Spanish monarchs funded Christopher Columbus on his voyage to what was later called “the New World,” initiating a race between European countries to send out explorers to become the continent’s dominating power. Driven by the promise of wealth, status, and new beginnings, explorers conquered the lands of North and South America, resulting in their direct disruption of the indigenous peoples’ lives. Following this contact, the lives of both Native Americans and Europeans were permanently transformed by the Europeans’ desire for wealth and need to spread and dominate through religion. While providing beneficial outcomes for Europeans, these motives ultimately incited the deterioration of once-thriving native civilizations …show more content…
Upon contact in 1519, the Spanish sought to reform the Aztecs, whom they described as savages that “waged continual and ferocious war upon each other” and “[ate] human flesh” (Sepulveda). This belief of European supremacy, along with their savage image of Native Americans, allowed the Spanish to justify their mission of converting natives to Catholicism. In 1521 in Tenochtitlán, the Spanish burned down Aztecs’ temples to make way for Catholic cathedrals, for missionaries aimed to have the Aztecs, who practiced human sacrifice, “observe the Christian religion and correct their sins” (Las Casas). A few decades later in New Mexico, Spanish missionaries further suppressed native religions in order to convert masses of natives to Catholicism. The Puritans from England, in 1637, similarly took advantage of the negative perception of Native Americans to justify their brutal killing of the Pequot tribe when hostilities exploded. Pequot villages were burned down and the survivors were shot, virtually annihilating the tribe. After English critics bashed them, the Puritans made feeble efforts to convert the surviving natives to Christianity. In doing so, the English in the Old World shifted …show more content…
While these actions provided for European prosperity, they also provoked the degradation of once-flourishing native civilizations. These civilizations saw their original economic systems replaced with ones focused on personal profit rather than communal gain. Furthermore, the European view of native life as unfamiliar and immoral gave them reason to convert natives to Christianity, disregarding native religions and traditions. In addition, millions of natives were insidiously wiped out by European disease, involuntarily providing Europeans with an easier path to obtaining more land and wealth. Nonetheless, while the effects of Native American and European contact set precedent for America’s current capitalistic economic structure and dominating Christian majority, they also initiated the continued discrimination of native peoples today, ultimately relegating them to the bottom of society’s social and economic

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