European Contact Impact

2007 Words9 Pages
Describe the impact of European contact on the New World during the first fifty years after its discovery by Columbus in 1492.
In 1492, when Columbus set sail into the unknown and eventually found land he believed to be India, he was confused to find naked men greeting him. The native’s absence of clothes is quite significant because it seems from this moment on, Columbus viewed them as a people deprived of religion, customs and culture and therefore his lesser. He was somewhat disappointed to discover these naked savages without distinct characteristics, and during his time exploring the New World, made no effort to understand them. (Todorov, 1984)
These “savages” soon realised that the visitors that arrived were there to take over their
…show more content…
The Spaniards would take the Native women as mistresses, but never wives. (Peter J. Riga) The European man is intrigued and mystified by the beauty of the Indian woman, but it never occurs to him to ask for her permission to conduct his desires towards her. If she refuses his advances, it seems to solidify her image of that as a whore. She was vilified firstly because she was female and secondly because she was Indian. This, in the eyes of the white Europeans puts her on the same level of importance as cattle. (Todorov, 1984) This was another humiliation to the native people because among them, women were greatly respected, they were capable of being the head of clans, owning fields and houses and electing councillors of tribes. (Jessica Claridge,…show more content…
However, these laws were worthless unless the Indians recognised the Church and the Christian faith and converted. When the Dominicans arrived to convert the native population in a gentler way, they were horrified with how great the practice of abuses was. They began to argue that the Spaniards own salvation would be in peril if they did not change their ways. Pope Paul III even issued a papal bull on 9 June 1537 condemning the actions of the settlers but “even the promulgation of so powerful a text was incapable of changing reality, because the economic interests of the colonists were so powerful”, (Peter J Riga) highlighting that words are rarely effective when it comes to combating wealth and greed. One cannot help but ask how did the settlers have the right to occupy lands that original belonged to the Indians let alone conduct war there? War was simply used as a subterfuge for plundering wealth and gold and bringing it back to Europe. “The Indians were the legitimate possessors of their lands, and one could not morally wage war on them if they refused to be converted”. Between 1524- Franciscan missionaries started to arrive and thanks to them, much of the Indians history has been preserved. (Peter J

More about European Contact Impact

Open Document