Essay on American colonization

The European colonization of America caused its people's lives, customs, and bloodlines to be eternally altered. During their exodus, the North American population was besieged by sickness and misery. In several cases, they fought with the European group that attempted to enslave them. The Tainos were the first indigenous community visited by Europeans; nonetheless, the prevalent infectious diseases did not kill them. This paper will detail the challenges that Native Americans suffered as a result of European conquest of the North American continent.

Since European colonizers conquered North American territory, Native Americans have faced terrible treatment. The rules were changed to favor their own interests. The kind of law imposed would guarantee them to fully acquire their rights and in the other hand denying the natives their rights (Kenen 19). Moreover, the settlers made the Native Americans to assimilate their culture into a culture that had their own social elements. Since the arrival of the Europeans, they had had several attempts to make the Natives to adapt to their culture making them to be under stress. With their continuous effort to destroy Native American culture, the Europeans took a concrete step that led to the Native’s multigenerational trauma (Andrews140). For example, the Europeans forcefully relocated the Natives children from their ancestral home to a boarding school. In addition, they did so and continued to exploit their lands for industrial gain. All the negative impacts experienced by the Native Americans are noted in Alexie’s and Louise works.

Disease Epidemic

The European colonization period in North America came with diseases. The Europeans introduced these diseases and the worst implication is that the Natives had no immunity developed against them. Measles and chicken pox were common and life threating to the native population than to the Europeans. Malaria, influenza, small pox, diphtheria, typhus and measles amongst other epidemics swept in leading to the death of many Natives (Kenen 21). This created a major calamity in the human history compared to the Black Death. This led to the decline of the Indigenous Native American population. Another reason that led to a dramatic decline of the Native populations was the never-ending wars that were either between their fueding native communities or with the colonialists.

The Natives attempt to use indigenous medicine seemed helpless and lost reliability to the killer diseases. The areas that were hit hard by the infectious disease were densely populated farming societies such as the Huron. The armies, traders and the migrants were sporadically repeating the infections. The loss was sudden making the remaining Native population to get worried. Decrease in population and war stimulated other communities to be created with some decimated societies arising from the European strangers.

Change in Religion

The invasion of European in North America led to the change in religion. Earlier, the Native Americans had one Universal spiritual system. Their religion was based on several stories, legends and creation myths. The Indigenous Natives had shamans- singers, healers, Medicine Men and Medicine Women, ritualists, and mystics. They used their own language to describe the function performed by these religious and it required that no outsiders to be familiar with these words. Their religion was a form of spirituality. Their focus was on maintenance of mutual relationship with the spiritual world (Kenen 23). The European entry into the Native lands brought in Christianity. Protestants influenced the Natives to change their religion influenced the.

Native Americans Movement

The Native Americans were moved and they were being concentrated in other parts of the continent far from their homes. This greatly reduced their territorial numbers with small number of them retaining their homelands. Under an Act known as Indian removal Act, more than 50 Indian tribes were moved with the major aim of providing barren lands where they would stay permanently. On their forced trek to other lands, one of every four immigrants died due to hunger, depression, cold, or exhaustion.

When the Europeans could no longer move the Native American any further to the unwanted lands, then a problem cropped. The policy makers decided that it would be appropriate to gather the Native Americans and force them to reside permanently in reservations. The colonialists’ major goal was to concentrate the Native population, to isolate them and force them to practice agriculture as their way of life (Kenen 24). Permanently moving the Natives to the reservations was illegal and wicked. Alexi’s book shows how the Spokane hated the reservation and they felt bad when he was talking about them. There was the violation of the treaty when the Natives were moved to the reserves.


Alexie’s book paints the way of life that the Spokane Indian Community lived and it also reveals the struggles they underwent to survive. They had to survive in a world that did not offer many chances for them. To get solace, they got relief using alcohol. Europeans introduced alcoholism into the Native American societies making some of them learn the custom of drinking alcohol. Despite the introduction of alcohol, the Europeans failed to educate the Natives some aspects of their social life. The alcohol was easy to get for the Native Americans, as there was competition between the English and the French colonies to win their alliances. Alcohol became the tool that would help them to succeed in the colonization of North America (Andrews 144). What proceeded was the incorporation of alcohol into the Natives’ society.

The new rules made by the Europeans plus their harsh treatment negatively influenced their social lives. For comfort, alcohol had proved to be the only remedy. Native Americans were known as people who would be pushed to drink due to their devastations and dislocations. However, not all of them drank, and they were allowed to make choices as either individuals or communities to determine if alcohol would be fit for their lives. Increasing number of alcoholics led to increase in mortality for the natives (Beauvais 253).

Introduction of Animals

The Europeans brought horses to the North America. Some of the horses escaped and lived in the wild where they bred and increased their numbers. Interestingly, these horses originated from America, and they faced extinction due to overhunting by the Native Americans. The reintroduction of horses had a positive impact on the North American people in that they were able to use it for traveling. In addition, they expanded their territories and exchanged their goods with other tribes. Other animals that were introduced include sheep, pigs, and cattle.

Some areas in America were inhospitable to the settlers and they decided to move to the Northern America. Traders, trappers and missionaries had long been roaming in their territories. Soon afterward wagon trains started rolling westwards across the natives land. Suddenly thousands of fortune hunters moved in by means of a treaty. The migration was relentless making the North American population to be dense. In addition, the railroads and the communication lines disrupted the Natives daily activities such as hunting and fishing. There was depletion of natural resources and destruction of food gathering grounds (Kenen 34).


The Native Americans had no choice but to survive in their reserves under desperate conditions. They were still not willing to assimilate which in their perspective meant; the loss of their heritage and culture and buying into a different lifestyle. They had the determination of maintaining their sovereignty. One of their chiefs explained this idea as their old way of life having faded did not mean that they would imitate the white men. Self-governance was the most critical issues to the Native Americans up to today. They fought for their hunting and their fishing grounds. In addition, they maintained their heritage even when they were moved to the reservations. The sovereignty of the Native Americans can be compared with a character in one of the books written by Louise Erdrich “Resistance and Resilience”. Fleur who is a young Chippewa woman was surrounded by myth and culture (Flavin 60). Throughout the book, Fleur remains staunch in maintaining her family’s culture. On the other hand, there is this half-blood young girl known as Pauline. She became assimilated, and she is a Christian who is jealous of Fleur. Pauline views the Chippewa people to be lesser for being staunch in their culture.


Since the arrival of the Europeans in the North America, their acts had had an impact on the Natives’ lifestyle. Poverty languished in the Native community. The White Americans had had an attitude towards the Native Americans that resulted in them securing few well-paying jobs. The jobs they were given were not satisfying and would not enable them to live better lives. Unemployment and low-income jobs frustrated the natives that made them be alcoholics. This situation is well seen in Alexie’s book whereby the characters had to deal with the fact that they had no jobs to do during the day. They had little money that they used for alcohol instead of buying their basic needs (Beauvais 253). The exposure to alcohol made them pass the character to their children. They grew up with no money with increased poverty in the reservations.


The European arrival in the North American continent brought nothing but misery to the natives. There was depopulation due to the never-ending wars and attacks by infectious disease. There was a rise in unemployment rates due to discrimination. Lack of jobs made them become alcoholics, at last, what is experienced is their land being grabbed, and they are pushed to congested reservations. The only positive impact brought by the Europeans is the introduction of animals such as horses, pigs, sheep, and cattle. Horses facilitated traveling and expansion of their territories.

Works Cited

Andrews, Scott. "A New Road and a Dead End in Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues." Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory 63.2 (2007): 137-152.

Beauvais, Fred. "American Indians and alcohol." Alcohol Research and Health 22.4 (1998): 253.

Flavin, Louise. "Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine: Loving Over Time and Distance." Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction31.1 (1989): 55-64.

Kenen, Jr James Axtell William R. The European and the Indian: Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America: Essays in the Ethnohistory of Colonial North America. Oxford University Press, USA, 1981.

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