Native Peoples And Their Customs Essay

813 Words Oct 4th, 2015 4 Pages
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 of Christianization." Moreover, the bull prohibited Indian slavery. Two distinct arguments emerged concerning the debate over the conquest and forced conversion of Natives. Bartolomé de las Casas, a Dominican bishop, expressed an opinion in accordance with the Vatican, in which he refuted Spanish superiority and opposed forced conversion; conversely, the historian Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda argued that the Natives were inherently inferior to the Spaniards and thus, deserving of conquest and mistreatment. Dr. Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda was a humanist and translator of Aristotle, and relied upon Aristotle 's theory of natural slavery to inform his argument. Sepúlveda believed that the native Amerindians were inherently inferior to their…

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