Native American Culture Analysis

1698 Words 7 Pages
Before Christopher Columbus, the Native Americans as a whole lived in a variety of cultures and cannot be simply grouped into one larger society. This division and diversity allowed for rich art and histories but also facilitated European conquest. The Native Americans can be divided into two large groups, those of North America, and those of South & Central America, to be analysed separately. Within Central and South America, there were two main populations. The Mayans ruled much of the Yucatan Peninsula from 300 to 800 AD (I realise this is prior to 1491, but for the sake of context). Centuries later, the Aztecs assumed power in the same area, only to be conquered upon Spanish arrival. Concurrently, the Incans ruled in Peru and South America. …show more content…
After the initial discovery of the New World by Columbus, and the reports of thousands of pagan natives, the Spanish saw quite the spiritual opportunity. That same year the Spanish had finally beaten the Moorish Muslims out of their fort of Grenada and, after uniting the thirteen kingdoms of Spain, was more zealous than ever to win souls for Christianity. A major group within the Spanish expeditions, in fact, were the Jesuits founded by St Ignatius of Loyola, in Spain. These priests traveled with Spanish explorers and often served as mapmakers, planners, and translators. Their main motive was to convert the Native Americans to Christianity, but sadly this goal often lead to unsavoury actions and results. In efforts to convert the Natives, priests insisted that shamans leave their entire practice which often carried with it oral histories. Moreover, Natives could only (somewhat) enter Spanish society if they converted first. These and other Christianisation pressures lead the Natives of the New Mexico settlement to revolt in 1680, only to have the Spanish return in …show more content…
Under Spanish rule, Native American religion was sought out and destroyed in attempts at conversion. With the English, the Natives simply stayed out of English colonies, due to many areas of religious intolerance, like Maryland and Massachusetts Bay. And with the French, assimilation began to chip away at Native culture. For the settlers, religious cultures were established and fortified that still thrive today, such as the Catholic majorities still present in many former Spanish and Portuguese colonies. In other areas of the New World, settlers often bickered and divided over religious difference, such as the colonies that grew out of Puritan Massachusetts Bay. This lead to expansion and further encroachment upon Native

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