Western Civilization Of Native Americans: A Comparative Analysis

In response to exposure to Native peoples and their customs, many Europeans expressed confusion and fear of new and unfamiliar New World practices. Certain aspects of indigenous culture, such as nudity, bathing, polytheism, and cannibalism cast negative impressions upon the Europeans and the settlers began to doubt the humanity of the Amerindians. Spaniards questioned the state of the Natives ' souls and if they were capable of accepting Christianity and assimilating to Western civilization. In 1537, Pope Paul III issued a statement, explaining the Vatican 's stance on the humanity of Natives and the European approach to proselytization of the indigenous population. The papal bull Sublimis Deus "declared the Indians "truly men" and thus capable …show more content…
The Dominican bishop attributed European domination not to their inherent superiority over Natives, but to their excessive cruelty. Las Casas viewed the ulterior motives of European conquest--exploitation of a population incapable of resisting their advances. Bartolomé denounced the Spaniard 's treatment of the natives and urged the papacy to pass the New Laws of 1542; the New Laws prohibited Indian slavery and punished individuals responsible for the Peruvian Civil War by stripping away their encomiendas. Las Casas ' objective was to humanize the Native Amerindians, elevating them to the same social status of Europeans, and peacefully guide them to …show more content…
Las Casas argues, "all possess understanding and volition, being formed in the image and likeliness of God;" therefore, Europeans could not use superiority as a justification for uprooting and terrorizing an entire indigenous population. No one person or race is born with predominance over another. Rather, a race of people advances by capitalizing upon the ability to learn from the past and enact that knowledge toward their future. A fierce opponent of forced conversion, Las Casas contended, "natives [have] sufficient "capacity" to become Christianized peacefully and live like Spaniards." In order for a valid and meaningful spiritual conversion, natives should make the decision to accept Christianity of their own volition. In Apologetical History of the Indies, Las Casas compares the native peoples to uncultivated soil, in need of proper encouragement in order to foster and come to fruition. Bartolomé de las Casas ' argument asserts that native Amerindians are inherently equal to Europeans, and therefore are deserving of just treatment and a willful conversion to

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