Beginning in 1492 when the Spanish under the crown of Castile invaded the Americas, where their first settlement was in Santo Domingo, their main motivations were trade and the spread of the Catholic faith through indigenous conversions and economic gain. Due to these objectives they intervened and attempted to change every facet of the indigenous way of life including their ‘notions of spirituality, witchcraft, and intoxication’. The indigenous population had formally been removed from the jurisdiction of the inquisition by order of King Phillip the second in 1571, however the native people of Mexico and other invaded lands of the Americas were still prosecuted on accounts of witchcraft or being Nauatil (witches).
Colonialism engaged with notions of spirituality and witchcraft by asserting their dominance in attempts to completely annihilate these practices. They attempted to make sense of what they did not understand by attributing these happenings to witchcraft and condemning those prosecuted as witches. Further, as previously mentioned, they attempted to spread the Catholic religion by deeming the religious practices previously ‘inherited’ (treatise on Heathen superstition) by the indigenous population as acts of witchcraft.
In his letter to Reverend Don Francisco Manso de Zunga, Hernando Ruiz de Alarcon a Spanish navigator of the sixteenth centaury wrote that the reasons behind attempting to completely eradicate the superstitious ways of the people he regarded as Indians was that some of their practices such as “drunkenness was not permitted to them even in their heathen state” and was punishable by death. (39) His reasons behind “scraping of drunkenness