European Interactions with Native Americans

Topics: Europe, Colonialism, Spanish colonization of the Americas Pages: 2 (646 words) Published: September 7, 2013
In 1492 Christopher Columbus landed his ships on a foreign land, unknown the monumental era that would be started by his discovery. There he mistakenly dubbed the natives as Indians, believing he had successfully reached the “Indies.” Columbus's epochical voyage would soon be followed by various power-hungry European countries, scrambling for their stake at the New World. Newly unified Spain who was eager their superiority, and religiously conflicted England both claim their share in the Americas, and their interactions in the New World would shake the foundation of the global economic system and forever change the cultural standing of these unsuspecting natives.

Spain became the dominating power in exploring and colonizing the New World in the 1500s, as they also secured its claim to Columbus's discovery. Numerous ambitious Spanish conquistadores flooded into the Americas in search of god, gold, and glory, such as Hernando de Soto, who undertook a gold-seeking expedition in North America during 1539-1542. Spanish conquerors willingly and easily destroyed native empires and civilizations, as shown by Francisco Pizarro who crushed the Incas of Peru in 1532 and Hernan Cortes who demolished the Aztec civilization in Mexico, both for the sake of wealth. Moreover, the importation of precious metals from the New World drastically impacted the economy of Europe. The flood of wealth caused the increase of consumer costs by 500 percent, fed the economic system of capitalism, and helped lay the foundation of the modern banking system. However, these advancements in European society were made at the price of native devastation in the hands of the Spanish. The implementation of the system encomienda, in which a Spanish colonist was allowed to demand labor or tribute from an Indian in return for the promise to Christianize them, was essentially slavery. And in addition to conquest and death, Cortes brought his crops, animals, language, laws, customs, and religion to the...
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