History 101: American History Before 1877
The Native American Experience
Instructor: Linda Rhoades-Swartz
Date: April 8,2021
How greedy were the Europeans? For centuries. a pattern can be seen that the Europeans have always had a way of taking land from other civilizations. The Aztecs, Incas, and Mayas are all examples of civilizations the Europeans overcame. In this paper, I will discuss how one culture obliterates many for gold, land, goods, and materials.
When Europeans arrived, over 7 million Native Americans inhabited what is now the United States and Canada. These northern people lived in hunter-gatherer or agriculture colonies governed by kin ties. Nevertheless, many native people about 40 million, scholars removed in Mesoamerica and along the western coast of South America (Henretta). Among these tribes were the Mayas, Aztecs and the North American Indian, which were located north of the Rio Grande. It was likely, the Europeans did not experience plenty of tribes to know that they all had different points of view and ways of life. They all had different ideas of how the world was created, different Gods that they worshipped.
Let’s take the Mayas for example in their version, the god of lighting, K’awiil, hurled a bolt that split the great mountain and revealed two life-giving plants: maize and cacao. The maya civilization was one of the most authoritative primeval societies of Mesoamerica. They were great at agriculture, pottery, hieroglyphic writing, calendar-making and mathematics, and left behind an extraordinary amount of impressive architecture and symbolic artwork. It is said that the Europeans first encountered these Maya’s in the 1950’s. They called the Europeans dictators. They stated the Europeans caused them suffering, as well as separation between their communities, they felt as though the Europeans were forcing them to change their way of life (Mayans).
Aztecs settled on an island in Lake Texcoco, not far from the great pyramid. In 1325, they built a new city, Tecochtitlan. Aztecs mastered the complex irrigation systems of long-resident peoples and established a hierarchical social order. Priests and warrior-nobles ruled over free Aztec commoners who farmed communal land. The Aztec’s story of creation included birth, death, and rebirth. When the world was destroyed, it was born again through the foregoing of one of the gods and through the birth of a new sun. It was also in the 15th century when the Aztecs were discovered and conquered by the Europeans. Conquerors led by the Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes disestablished the Aztecs by force and captured Tenochtitlan in 1521 bringing an end to Mesoamerica’s last great native civilization.
The Aztecs were known for the amazing cities that they were able to build. They were essentially the master architects of their time. The Aztecs’ willingness to uphold misery, starvation, and massive deaths rather than surrender during Hernan Cortez took over. Neither words nor the force of arms served him to persuade Cuauhtemoc, the last Aztec ruler, to submit to Spanish authority. There goes another example of the rule of the Europeans rule over the early Native American tribes.
The North American tribes that were located north of the Rio Grande were very different from the Mayans or the Aztecs. Indians such as the Hopewell, Pueblo, and Mississippian people’s northern Indian societies were far less populous, wealthy, and culturally complex than those of the Aztecs and the Mayans. Consequently, when Europeans intruded into North America after 1500, there were neither powerful Indian empires to confront them nor densely settled and rich societies for them to utilize. Most of what the Northern tribes had was their land. These Native American tribes had lived on this land for generations and no one had ever come to take the lands for them. They were proficient in farming, hunting, as well as maintaining the wildlife around them. They appreciated everything the land provided to them. They also worshipped different Gods than the Europeans did not understand.
Some tribes were able to live in peace with these new settlers however others were not. The tribes acknowledged the new settlers were only greedy and malicious resulting in they only wanting to take and not give back into the tribes. Europeans throughout history have shown a pattern of this greed dating back to the early 1500. Hernando De Soto was one of the god awful Spaniards who committed horrible crimes against the Indian people. From 1539 to 1542, Hernando De Soto and an army of 600 other Spaniards roamed through the southeastern part of the present-day United States. They murdered, raped, and enslaved hundreds of Indians, and unintentionally introduced smallpox, measles, and many other viruses that took lives of tens of thousands more. The disease where things that the Indians had never experienced before, some women,childern, and even men committed suicide so that they did not fall into the controls of the enemies.
The narrative of the Europeans encounters with the Native American Indians are not ones that were made for delightful reading. According to Ward Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, the depletion of the North American Indian populations from around the amount of 12 million in 1500 to barely 235,000 in 1900 represents a “vast genocide the most sustained on record.” The numbers were beyond belief, to think that such a large society had been expunged by just the sheer anticipation of gaining land, gold, and other precious metals. Most of the decrease in civilization by the diseases that were brought over from Europe. Consisting of history between the early native tribes and Native American tribes once thing was clear Europe has always had a hunger for those things that are not theirs. The Europeans did not stop with the land they took and killed hundreds they moved onto Africa where they acquired the slaves to work their new lands. Since, the Europeans continued on a pattern of control and taking what was not theirs. Did they ever realize the suffering of those they embezzled from? What is it all worth ripping people off and capturing them? Was slaverly worth the damage?
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