Part 1: Certain characteristics, themes, and attitudes appear in the explorers we read about this week. In particular, among many other themes, there are interesting responses by each explorer to the Native Americans, the land, and the opportunities. Choose two from Columbus, deVaca, Champlain or Smith and discuss the themes and ideas you found most important.
Part 2: Considering the readings of the explorers this week, if you were to bring the characteristics, themes, and attitudes that they displayed and that connected them to present American society and your life specifically, how would you best describe the distinctive characteristics of Americans? Have they changed as society, culture, and technology have changed? Or have they remained largely the same?
Answer the higher order questions of how and why in discussion responses. All discussions referring, responding, or relating to works of literature must be accompanied by in text quotes (or paraphrases) and cites. Please ensure you are properly quoting and citing in MLA format. Remember if there is a citation on the Works Cited page that source must have been used in the body of the forum post. If there is an in text cite in the forum post, that source must be listed on the Works Cited page. They go together and one must accompany the other.
Please respond to at least two of your classmates in their forum posts. Peer replies should be substantive, insightful, and further discuss or explore the discussions posted by your classmates. Please be sure to check back, as a common courtesy, to read and respond to anyone who responded to your forum. Respond to two classmates' posts in at least 100 to 150 words each.
Christopher Columbus felt that the Native Americans were simple and uncomplicated people and where content with what they owned, "whether the thing be of value or of small price, at once they are content with whatever little thing of whatever kind may be given to them." They were indifferent to the Native Americans and looked to them as an easy way to use their land and the natural resources it provided for a cheap trade in return. Columbus saw this land as a way to justify his expedition to his financial investors back home. Since they thought they had landed in India, they were originally in search for spices, but the land in America turned out to be a great opportunity for the explorers in the end.
John Smith was truly concerned about self-preservation. He felt no animosity towards the Native Americans, but used them for any purpose he needed. If the Native Americans got hostile, he would resort to fighting and killing them in order to survive. He was known for being a true survioralist and used this interaction with the Native Americans as an opportunity to escape his previous history of imprisonment and make a fresh start. He wrote the book called “The General,” in which he told his story of the settlement and rescue by Pocahontas. This got the English colonies interested in the possibility of a new world and the resources that the land they discovered could give.
Although society and technology have changed, I feel that human nature always stays the same. I think the attitude of indifference that Christopher Columbus had towards the Native Americans would still hold true in today’s world. As much as we preach acceptance, we would have handled business transactions just like Columbus did. He did take advantage of the God complex that the Native Americans gave him, but ultimately he wanted make good with them and be seen in a good light through the exchange of small gifts from his land. The fact that they thought he was a God, put them in awe of him and they were more apt to accept his gifts and exchanges with him. In today’s world a good example of this is that many people are convinced by advertising to buy a product for the reason being that it is the best thing out there, even though there are not many facts to back this up.
I also think John Smith would have had the same attitude towards the Native Americans if he was in today’s world. Americans would have taken advantage of the Native Americans in a survival environment just like Smith did. John Smith had a very arrogant attitude in that he only needed the Native Americans for supplies and if they were in his way, he would dispose of them. Smith’s attitude is relevant in today’s society in how Americans have a similar sense of entitlement. John Smith was also a survivalist and would do anything to keep himself alive, much like the homeless do in today’s society. They will beg and barter and eat just about anything in order to survive on the streets. This idea of doing anything and everything in order to survive and get by is a very American concept.
In conclusion, these European explorers neither liked nor disliked the Native Americans; they just sprang on the opportunity to work with them in order to use their land and their knowledge for the land. They did not express a great hatred towards the Native Americans, they would have exploited anyone who had control of the land in order to take over and get what they wanted from them.