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Native Americans and Newcomers

Native Americans and Newcomers

After the Europeans discovered America ‘by accident’, they created empires and started enslavement of Africans. However, these interactions lasted for centuries. As a result, such cultural interaction made, on the one hand, a true disaster for Africans and Native Americans, and, on the other hand, a triumph for the Europeans. During this interaction all three groups of people significantly transformed.

In 1580, Europeans called the old region of Native Americans’ habitat a New World. The part of Native Americans, who started greeting the Europeans, consisted of diverse people: their societies, ways of living and languages always varied. Nevertheless, it would be unfair to suggest that interaction between Native Americans and the Europeans was exclusively negative. It is common knowledge that the Europeans insisted on the biological and cultural contacts with the Native Americans. It is necessary to realize that Native Americans suffered from isolation from the rest of the world while Africa, Asia and Europe had trading relationship with each other, based on the use of iron, domestic animals, jewelries, navigational equipment and many other things. As the Native Americans were not aware of technologies or production of things mentioned above, they seemed helpless against Europeans. The most damaging isolation was biological: Native Americans were helpless against European and African diseases. Though Native Americans were healthier than the Europeans, they died from different diseases, such as influenza, smallpox and measles. Europeans used lands and other sources that belonged to Native Americans. The agricultural activity demanded labor sources, but Europeans failed to enslave indigenous people, who died from diseases. Essentially, the bigger part of Native Americans died and the Africans were enslaved for years, but there were other attributes of colonization. Europeans and Africans brought their beliefs and traditions into the culture of Native Americans. Hence, the spread of diverse knowledge and customs contributed to the multicultural image of modern America. Europeans brought their lifestyle that was opposite to the customs of Native Americans. Technologies, equipment, new ways of housekeeping and agricultural practice are included in the list of Europeans’ gifts to the culture of Native Americans. Europeans discovered the mines of gold and other precious minerals appreciated in Europe. France started to involve fur in the trade as this material was usual for Native Americans.

It is worth examining the cultural impact of Europeans on Native Americans. Christianity that was not only a religion, but a characteristic of European culture, was opposite to the beliefs of Native Americans. The last ones, who were born with the idea of love, respect and care towards nature, could not understand the behavior of colonizers. Native Americans believed in the power of nature that could both help and punish people. Native Americans had a cult of nature, precisely, the cults of some kinds of animals and plants. While Europeans developed religious system, Native Americans were under the influence of animism, totems, fetishism, and magic. Native Americans did not treat the nature as an object that must serve his masters – people. They lived in a harmony with nature and behaved as wise and modest people. Europeans were blinded by the idea of human’s greatness and superiority. Europeans strived to dominate over nature and extend their lands: Colonists from England, France, Spain, Portugal and other European states started to form their towns, where the culture of their homeland dominated. For example, the first English colonists settled in Jamestown established joint-stock companies; one of the earliest settlers John Rolfe succeeded in tobacco cultivation; Massachusetts Bay Colony appeared in New England; in 1634, Cecilius Calvert founded Maryland.

Thus, the impact of Europeans was both positive and negative. Interactions between Native Americans and colonists cannot be called bad, even if they were damaging for Native Americans. Numerous cultural, political, economical and religious interactions helped to form the modern world with its advantages and disadvantages.

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