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Native Americans In 1492 Essay

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Before the Spanish ship that changed it all, which arrived in the “New World” in 1492, thriving organized communities of native people had centuries of history on the land. That ship, skippered by Christopher Columbus, altered the course of both Native American and European history. 1492 sparked the fire of cultural diffusion in the New World which profoundly impacted the Native American peoples and the European settlers. Prior to European contact, Native Americans lived as hunter-gatherers, living and traveling in groups of typically less than 300 people. These Native Americans spoke over 400 languages and practiced a myriad of different religions (The American Pageant). Across the continent, the Natives built homes based on the habitat…show more content…
In 1550, Emporer Charles V summoned a debate to determine how Spain would deal with the Native Americans. Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda and Bartolomé de Las Casas engaged in discourse about this topic: Sepúlveda denigrated the Natives while de Las Casas defended them. Sepúlveda felt that the Native Americans were basically barbaric sub-humans, and that the Europeans were greatly superior to them. He felt that Christianity was far more altruistic than the Natives’ religions. However, Las Casas felt that the Natives should be treated equally, since he believed Jesus died for the Natives just like he died for the Europeans. He noted their sophisticated, very well-developed societies. When Europeans came into contact with Native Americans, they tried to spread Christianity and force Natives to convert to their religion. This is because people who sided with Sepúlveda felt that their religion was superior and wouldn’t ever fathom that they could adopt any of the Natives’ religions. Places in the “new world” that were under Spanish rule often were exceedingly religiously intolerant. As the Europeans gained more and more power religiously, Native American religions were silenced. As more settlers came to the new world from Europe, they brought Christianity with them, and Christianity’s popularity from Europe continued on in the new world. European contact with Native Americans deteriorated the Natives’ religions while strengthening the Europeans’
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