Sample essay topic, essay writing: Europeans Vs. Native Americans - 920 words
One huge shift in history happened around the late 1400's when a slightly well known man by the name of Christopher Columbus came across what is now known as North America. Columbus actually thought he had found a new and shorter route to the West Indies. When this was announced, the news spread like wildfire and it was not soon after that, other countries began to send their own explorers. It was a bright and positive time when leaders wanted to claim new land for their country. But, what of the people that were already settled in America where Columbus had been so quick to claim for Spain? These people were the real settlers of America, the Native Americans as they would be called later on in history. For a long time in America's history and even up until I was in Elementary School, it was being taught that Christopher Columbus was in fact the discoverer of America.
The truth, as we all know is that he could not have possibly discovered it when there was already people there! Instead, it is possible to say that he "laid claim" to it for Spain. There were many other famous explorers other than Columbus. Some of them include Lief Ericson who discovered Newfoundland, Amerigo Vespucci who discovered South America and the West Indies, Vasco de Balboa who discovered the Pacific Ocean, Hernando Cortez who discovered Mexico and consequently wiped out an entire civilization known as the Aztecs. Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered California while Samuel de Champlain found the Great Lakes and Quebec. The Hudson Bay was named after Henry Hudson after he discovered it
Also, Ferdinand Magellan was the first man to sail completely around the world. At first, the Native Americans welcomed the European Explorers and were curious about them and their motives in their land. The natives introduced the Europeans to gold, silver, potatoes, corn, beans, vanilla, chocolate, many other vegetables and most importantly, tobacco. Europeans did introduce the natives to a few good materials but unfortunately, they also introduced them to things that would lead to their eventual doom. Europeans introduced the natives to wheat, sugar, rice, farm animals, guns, smallpox, measles, influenza and many other harmful diseases.
These diseases, which the Native Americans had never come in contact with and therefore had no immunity too, wiped out thousands of people at a time and sometimes entire tribes. Cultures and entire ways of life were snuffed out by these ruthless and greedy conquistadors as they arrived to claim their right to these indigenous people's land. One would think that the two cultures might have been able to live and work together peacefully if it wasn't for the disease that wiped them out, but that probably still would not have been a possible inclination. To understand what exactly led to the eventual fighting between the Native Americans and European settlers, one must first learn the cultural differences between them. While, some Native American's learned to "coexist" with new foreign settlers trading and interacting with them, other natives did not like these invaders and were eventually destroyed, usually by force. These new Europeans tried to bring their new way of life to the natives while these people just wanted to maintain their traditional and natural way of life.
Native Americans wanted to live for their family, religion and becoming one with nature. They believed that all things were connected spiritually and that their actions could directly influence nature around them. They also believed that the land could be owned by no one and it was for all people to share together. This posed a major problem for the land hungry Europeans who were far more selfish than the natives. Europeans were also completely different from natives, in that they believed in the widely accepted concept of Manifest Destiny. This was the belief that their Christian religion was right and it was their duty to spread this religion and reform these native "heathens" into righteous Christians. Native Americans and other indigenous people had one thing in common and that was their close ties to their own religion.
They believed and practiced in things such as hunting ceremonies, sweat lodges, vision quests, renewal ceremonies, cosmology, shamans and the afterlife. Also, indigenous beliefs and religions had no single founder. Native American beliefs and practices varied from tribe to tribe and each tribe usually had their own special dances or rituals. All stories and values were passed on by generation to generation, family to family, by way of mouth. It was obviously a huge struggle between Europeans and Native Americans to understand and interact normally with one another.
Not only was there a huge cultural gap in general but also a language and religious one too. One of the first American Indian groups to be wiped out by Europeans were the Arawaks of Haiti which were enslaved by Columbus. All 250,000 of them were eventually completely wiped out by enslavement and then disease. Historians estimate that nearly 80% of Native populations died from diseases brought by the Europeans. There is no doubt that the vast European colonization drastically changed the lives of Native Americans and other indigenous peoples all over the North and South American continents.
Their populations were destroyed by disease, enslavement, and warfare. It is sad to say but, within 400 years of the first contact between European settlers and Native Americans, the white man had succeeded in stripping Native American civilizations of almost all of their land, their way of life and their own lives.
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