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Impact of Europeans on Native Americans

By supahfroot Dec 08, 2013 745 Words
Change in a New World

Like many countries who have been invaded by a foreign power, Native Americans are also regarded to have been subjected to significant change. When the Europeans first arrived in the late 1400s, they brought with them the intent of not only exploring to find India, but also to find gold and much more wealth. The Europeans made a mistake in their navigation causing them not to arrive in India, but rather what they referred to as the “New World.” The Europeans had stumbled upon the Native Peoples that occupied that place. The Native Peoples were soon to become overpowered and eventually become slaves of the Europeans. With the Europeans now being part of the Native world, they eventually left a significant impact, an impact that affected them influentially, ethnocentrically, and population-wise.

One of the ways the Europeans left a cultural impact on the Native Americans is that they decreased the population significantly. One of the ways that the Europeans decreased the Native population was through the spread of foreign diseases. Some of the diseases they spread were small pox, influenza, and measles. The Native Americans had no immunity whatsoever when those diseases plagued them so it lead to terrible suffering then eventually death. Another cause in the decrease in the Native Peoples population was the displacement of many Native Americans. An example of displacement would be the Indian Removal Act of 1830. Although this event took place a while after Europeans the arrived in the “New World,” it was still influenced later on after the colonizing of America. This led to the killing of many Native Americans in similar events that took place if they were not compliant with new laws that were implemented after the colonizing of America. These are just some of the ways on how the Europeans left a cultural impact by decreasing the Native population.

On a much more psychological aspect of European impact on the Native Peoples was through ethnocentrism. The meaning of ethnocentrism is judging another culture’s values based on one’s understanding. The Europeans use of ethnocentrism led to one of the greatest misconceptions today: the use of the word “Indian.” When the Europeans arrived and saw the Natives, they called them Indians. We already know that this was known to be historically incorrect, but the term was used so frequently, mostly everyone start to say it. It was used passively so much out of context, that even the Native Americans started to refer to themselves as Indian. This also led to why so many people today call Native Americans, Indians. Another aspect of ethnocentrism came from the Native Peoples themselves. The Europeans had once asked the Hopi, what a certain tribe was called. The Hopi had referred to that tribe as Navajo, or “thieves,” a Hopi term. The Europeans began calling that tribe Navajo as well. Again, the term was used so often, that eventually, the tribe started to call themselves Navajo, even though that was not what they called themselves. Later, all the tribes were given names, calling themselves by those names, then having all the other tribes doing the exact same thing. These are a few example of how ethnocentrism affected the Native Peoples.

Europeans also had cultural influences on the Native Americans. One of the cultural influences on the Native Americans was based on religion. The Europeans decided that they wanted the Native Americans to be taught about religion through the use of the bible, which the Natives had not have heard of before, so they began to teach the Native Americans about their religion. Some of the Native Americans began to take interest so when they learned, they would pass on the teachings to the other Natives. Another influence of Europeans was through the use of assimilation. The Europeans noted down the Natives were savages, but once they had started to act like “civilized” people they called those Noble Savages. This happened because the Native Americans took it upon themselves to start behaving like the Europeans did, and took up many European styles like when it came to clothing. These are just some examples of European influences on their culture.

Ultimately, Europeans left a very significant impact on the Native American culture. Because of the European invasion on the Native land, Native Americans began to change their traditional ways for interest and or compliance. These impacts started to leave an impact that America-today, would also be part of.

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