Europeans vs Native Americans During Colonial Virginia

Topics: Native Americans in the United States, Slavery, Colonialism Pages: 6 (1945 words) Published: July 9, 2011
Although there is a shared number of similarities, the Europeans of the early 16th century had many differences with the Native Americans of the same era. When the Europeans first discovered the Americas in the late 1400s to the early 1500s, they expected to find a land filled with savages that had little or no intelligence or technological advancements. However, these European explorers came to realize that the Native Americans were far more civilized than they had imagined. Upon reaching North America, the first European explorers held to the stereotype that the Native Americans were a primitive society simply because the Natives’ way of life, in some ways, were far different from their own. The biggest and perhaps the most clear difference between the two societies are that some of the Natives lived in a matrilineal society, while the Europeans believed in a more common patrilineal way of life. For example, the Iroquois believed in matrilineal families where it was determined by the mother, rather than the father. Females were clearly the authority of the household. If a woman desired a divorce from her husband, she simply took his belongings and placed them at the doorstep. Moreover, there was a group of older women from related families who made a majority of the political decisions for the village.

Whether or not the village should go to war was decided upon by the matrons. If the village were to disagree with a war effort, the matrons ceased the production of supplies, forcing the men to return home. In these ways, the European and Native American societies were extreme opposites. The political system was another way the two societies were different. While the Europeans had a capitalism-based society, many Native Americans practiced a more reversed capitalism. This was a direct contrast to the Europeans, where the goal was to acquire material possessions. Instead, the Indians believed in giving everything they owned to others. Rather than hunting or working for their own needs, they labored for the good of the village. Additionally, the Mohawk Iroquois didn’t believe in the private ownership of land. After making landfall in the New World, the Europeans began to realize they had many similarities with the Indian societies. The population in the New World were close in number to that of Europe in the 16th century, although this was not discovered until recently. However, over time, the Europeans also began to realize that the Natives had lived in the Americas for thousands of years. In some instances, their villages were similar to those of the Europeans. The Aztecs, for example, were a highly developed society who advancements were comparable to, if not exceeding, those of the Europeans. They had fully functional irrigation systems, and they controlled more people than the populations of Spain and Portugal combined. In the beginning of English colonization in America, there were many changes happening. Changes included things like seminal change in power in Europe, and following the defeat of the

Spanish Armada in 1588, the English became the dominant military power in Europe, thus turning its eyes overseas in order to increase its power. In turn, the first English settlement landed in the New World at Jamestown, Virginia in May 1607. It was named after King James I, who granted a charter group of capitalists known as the London Company to establish a settlement in the Chesapeake area of North America. They had orders to find gold and a water route to the Orient. The colonists, however, were victims of poor planning and bad management. The London Company wanted to exploit the land and didn’t plan to develop farms for the colony to survive. This is where John Smith became an important entity to the colony. He was one of the most significant and dominant leaders of the early English colonies. His strong leadership of his fellow colonists enabled them to survive the harshest of conditions. He...

Cited: Heinemann, Kolp, Parent Jr., Shade. “A History of Virginia 1607-2007.” Old Dominion, New
Commonwealth. University of Virginia Press. 2007. 211-239.
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