Native Americans’ Historical conflict with European Americans

Native Americans and Europeans in Early America

Native Americans from various tribes resided along the East Coast of what would eventually become the United States of America. The 1500s saw the earliest known encounters between Europeans and Native Americans. They arrived as fishermen at first, later transitioning to merchants. The Apache, Navajo, Lakota, Pawnee, and Arikara were among the nearby tribes. (Martin 18).

Land and Religion: A Source of Misunderstanding

Indians and Europeans coexisted in an advanced trading structure. Indians were employed by European settlers in America for a fee, and they coexisted together. The way that Europeans and Indians regarded the land may have been the main distinction between them. Therefore, the paper examines how factors such as land, religion, and cultural differences between European Americans and the Natives contributed to misunderstanding.

Stereotyping and Land Issues

Assumptions between the two races and cultures led to stereotyping. The two factors that were largely contested for are land and religion. Most settlers believed in ownership of land while Indians believed that land belonged to everyone. At first, the Natives accepted Europeans and allowed their cattle to graze and men to till their land (Martin 13). The misunderstandings began when Indians realized that Europeans had new ways of dealing with land issues. While Natives believed that land was communal and everyone would use whatever land they had, Europeans believed in ownership of property. For instance, Rumming Antelope (1876) writes, “We lived on our land as long as we can remember. No one knows how long ago we came there.” (Martin 21).

Land Policies and Misunderstandings

Europeans decided to formulate policies from what they claimed as protection of the treaties they had made prior. The whites actually put perimeters around their land. Natives were cruel to their enemies, and this pushed their European guests to formulate land policies that would prevent natives from grabbing their properties. Similarly, American Natives safeguarded their lands from Whites' encroachment. The treaty of Houston between the Cherokees and the United States was, however, implemented and warned on settlement of any Cherokees' land. Such persons would have forfeited the protection of the United States. Unfortunately, the hunger for land by settlers was enormous despite government warnings and treaties. Later settlers streamed into America despite the policies resulting in more misunderstanding between American Europeans and American Natives. The misunderstandings were evident from William Harrison's words (Indiana Governor) which claim, “The way and the only way to check and to stop this evil is for all the red men to unite in claiming a common and equal right in the land, as it was at first, and should be yet; for it never was divided, but belongs to all for the use of each.” (Martin 12). A letter by Chief Joseph (Congressman) to the Washington Chiefs lamented the way in which the Europeans were swiftly taking their lands and disturbing their possessions. When Omaha (an Indian soldier) was asked by his elders to go fight for his country, he responded, “I just gave them a smile and I thought to myself, Where is my country when I get home?" (Martin 34).

Religious Differences

Other than land, Religion brought huge misunderstanding between the settlers and Indians. Europeans were deep into Christianity. They were certain that Christianity was the only true religion. On the other hand, Native Americans were not interested in changing their culture. This resulted in distrust because these Europeans believed that individuals who did not believe in God were not trustworthy. Indians did not see the reasons why they should change their beliefs.

Cultural Confrontations and Viewing Each Other's Cultures

Both Natives and European Americans showed their willingness to learn each other's cultures. Initially, Whites viewed Indians as helpful and friendly, and in turn Americans were okay in harmony with their newly founded hosts. For instance, Fransisco Pizarro (1527) states, “I saw the things which brought to the King from the new Golden land… For I saw among them amazing works of art and marveled over the subtle ingenuity of the men in those distant lands” (Martin 2). They welcomed the colonialists willingly and engaged in trading with them. They had the objective to transform them into civilized and religious people. Four Guns (an anthropologist) narrates his journey to Washington DC. He says that he attended dinners with white people, and they had a strangely different culture (Martin 27). This resulted in misunderstanding because they wanted to conform to their culture. This angered both sides of the divide. Their confrontations with Natives led to a shift of the English towards other races. Benjamin Franklin (1784) says, “Savages we call them because their manners differ from ours, which we think the perfection of civility” (Martin 9).

Impact of Diseases and New Trade Goods

Health affordability, access, and disease immunity were an issue in the past and have been a big concern for the past 100 or so years. Currently, the average life expectancy of a Native trails the rest of America by 5 years. When European Americans came to North America, they carried new diseases such as smallpox, influenza, measles, and chickenpox. For instance, Chilam Balam writes, “there was no sickness, they had no aching bones, and they had no smallpox, the foreigners made it otherwise when they came” (Balam 3). These illnesses spread to the natives when they met and traded in their villages. The major problem and source of misunderstanding was that the Natives were not immune to those new maladies. Sometimes a whole village would succumb in a short period. Native. Initially, European Americans did not face resistance, but the spread of the disease brought new problems and misunderstandings. This affected their relations and trade with Europeans. On the other hand, American Europeans were immune to these diseases, and as a result, major misunderstanding occurred. This mix-up resulted in disagreements and lack of unity. A great number of affected American Natives were banished from their villages, others were neglected, stigmatized, and abandoned to die.

Introduction of New Trade Goods and Conflicts of Interest

Introduction of new trade goods was both a blessing and a curse. Europeans brought the Natives better products that they immediately got interested. American Natives were eager to trade and use their products such as axes, knives, and hoes in the shortest time. Natives prepared their hides and other pelts to trade in for the new materials. Soon this trade changed their trading pattern because the exchange of simple hunt for food began that become less important. The exchange of these technologies for simple food did not last for long because European Americans were already farming and had advanced hunting tools. The disagreements increased as seen from Chief Pawness words, “Now go back to the country from whence you came. We do not want your presents, and we do not want you to come into our country” (Martin 24).

Dependence and Conflicts over Labor

Eventually, American Natives depended on European American resources on a daily basis. This brought about dominance because of the existing supremacy. Natives put aside their hunting bows and arrows for Europeans' firearms. A conflict of interest brought misunderstanding and problems between them. Furthermore, rum was also introduced to Natives by Europeans. Social problems grew from this supremacy.

Slavery and Struggle for Dominance

A new form of trade from the 1700s was slavery. American Europeans during that era needed more workers to build, clear their fields, and build houses. Alternatively, American Natives were underpopulated considering they had limited land; as a result, they worked majorly at the European farms. Natives regarded slavery as exploitation. This misunderstanding grew to a struggle for dominance. Europeans began to ship in slaves in to provide labor for their farms. Ultimately the domineering power of Europeans resulted in a major misunderstanding. Moreover, slavery resulted in the sale of many Native slaves to Northern cities such as Boston (Martin 12). Consequently, many American Native tribes had to escape. Also, some tribes were completely destroyed from the great effect of the slave trade fixated from the desire for labor by American Europeans.

Conclusion: From Coexistence to Conflict

To conclude, the beginning saw Natives and Europeans interact happily and mutually co-existed. However, things changed fast due to different cultures, religious differences, land issues, diseases, and unalike means and tools of trading. Eventually, the misunderstandings turned into violence, slavery, and even murder. Robert Spott (1926) notes that Indians were murderers and they not only fought for self-defense but also to kill white men (Martin 35). Moreover, Natives became determined to prevent land purchasing and land grabbing. In fact, they threatened their own people by telling them that if they saw them signing allotment papers with the whites, they would be shot down (Martin 36). Such utterances were clearly as a sign of things getting worse. In the 21st century, Indians have been left behind by times and they currently in conditions that can only be compared to third-world countries.

Work Cited

Martin, Joel W, and Mark A. Nicholas. Native Americans, Christianity, Land Issues and the Reshaping of the American Landscape. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010. Internet resource. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/user/Downloads/NA_Paper_materials_compact_(1).pdf

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