The Exploitation of the Native Americans
The Native Americans are a prime example of the repression, poverty, and discrimination many minority groups have had to endure throughout the years. The Native Americans had their own land, culture and language. They were people able to adapt well to their particular region by hunting, fishing and farming crops. Their cultures primarily rested on wise use of all natural resources available. Many historians believe there were between 6 and 10 million Native Americans living in what later became the United States before the arrival of the Europeans (Parrillo, 2011). This paper will analyze the views the Europeans had about the Natives, what came about from these views and where the Native American culture is today because of the dominance the Europeans had over the them. According to Parrillo (2011), the Europeans and Native Americans were immensely different in race, material culture, beliefs and behavior; Because of the obvious physical differences Columbus’s first impression of the Natives when he arrived was ethnocentric. Columbus was not interested in understanding the Natives way of life he was judging them the less superior ethnic group that could be easily manipulated into their servants. The Europeans viewed the Native Americans as savage barbarians. Many people thought of the relationship between the whites and the Native Americans as violent and hostile, however peaceful coexistence initially throve. The Europeans considered themselves the sophisticated of the two and wanted the Natives to assimilate to their way of living. Europeans described the Native Americans as heathen, irregular people in need of Christian teachings, rude and ignorant; some went as far as saying they were a superior animal species (Herndon, 2012). Because of the obvious communication barrier that existed between the two there were many misunderstanding. The Natives did not understand why the whites used beating, hanging and imprisonment as a means of social control, and the whites did not understand why the Natives Americans resisted Christianity and their “civilized” way of life (Parrillo, 2011). Stereotypes began to form and lend to the change in relationship of coexistence to wanting to remove them. In the beginning the Europeans were small in numbers and depended on the Native Americans to help them learn to survive. At this time Native Americans and Europeans collaborated well with each other building the first settlements. Aritei (2007) explains that without the help of the Native Americans the Europeans would have not resisted the tough winter. This collaboration began to diminish as the Europeans learned to take care of themselves and wanted to expand. According to Herndon (2012), much of North America was unpopulated because the natives did not all live in one concentrated piece of land, instead were scattered and lived in tribes. When the white settler’s population started to increase with more people coming over this began the conflict of land and resources. As Europeans began their massive immigration they brought their methods of land cultivating and generated tensions with the Natives. The Europeans began changing the environment in a way that was unsuitable for the Natives way of life, in terms of hunting and resources (Anitei, 2007). The fact that the Europeans had far more advanced weapons than the Native Americans many were forced into slave work. Parrillo (2011) states that the growing demand for furs and hide led to wildlife reduction; additionally the tribes who once were self-sufficient became highly dependent of the colonial traders for items like clothing, tools weapons and alcohol. This led to “an irreversible path to economic dependence” (Parrillo, 2011, p. 158). The enslaved natives with no way to fight back often responded with mass suicide and infanticide. Along with the problem of economic dependence came new diseases the Native Americans immune system could not...
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