Paper #1: New Worlds For All
In early America the exchanges between European and native cultures catalyzed changes in the two cultures themselves. The interaction of the two cultures diffused into cultural, biological and economic exchanges. The result of these changes shaped further interactions between the cultures for future generations within each of the two cultures. Cultural diffusion is an inevitable product of the interaction of two worlds. Cultures exchange many things including diseases, plant and animal life and people. These exchanges took place over a vast scale in the new world, between several different European and native cultures.
When Europeans landed in the Americas they brought along the staples of their daily lives in Europe and introduced them into a new world environment. Colin Calloway discusses some of theses staples in the first chapter of his novel “New Worlds For All”. The European importation of wildlife is an example of a change brought about by European contact. The English and Dutch imported animals such as honeybees, cattle pigs, horses and cats. Among other accidental imports lay more malicious and harmful species such as rats, field mice and cockroaches. The introduction of European bird species such as sparrows and starlings created competition for habitat with indigenous species. Many of these changes in wildlife were witnessed by the native cultures without ever coming into physical contact with Europeans. To quote historian Karen Kupperman “Probably no European after the very first explorers ever saw an excusivley American meadow. Birds and animals took up seeds carried in the holds of ships and in the guts of animals and spread them far beyond frontier contact.” The spread of western biology created a more diverse ecosystem. The introduction of new species to the Americas was a double edged sword, while it created more food sources it also changed otherwise stable ecosystems. In the big
Cited: Colin Calloway, New Worlds for All: Indians, Europeans, and the Remaking of Early America (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997), 150. Olaudah Equiano. “The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano or Gustavas Vassa, The African,” in The Classic Slave Narratives, ed. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (New York: Signet Classic, 2002), 98.