Thursday, May 12, 2011

Differences Between Native Americans and Europeans (Indians vs. Whites)

The Native Americans and the European settler’s of the New World were more different from one another than similar.  One obvious proof of this is the tremendous cultural change within Native Indian populations that took place due to these differences.  While the English population grew from 150,000 to 2 million from 1680-1790, the Native Indian population decreased by 90-95% within the century. (lect. Oct. 10th) One of the reasons for this was the susceptibility of Native Indians to diseases, which the Europeans had resistance to.  Native Indians had a much weaker immune system then the Europeans. (lect. Oct. 10th) Gender roles were also different between Native Indians and Europeans. (Brown, 27) European men were in charge of agricultural production and trading whereas Native Indian women were in charge of these duties.  Europeans found the matrilineal society of Native Indians in which women took political, economical and social participation as ‘unnatural’ and thus unacceptable.  (Brown, 29)  The Native men did not like interacting with, in their opinion, weak, femininely and bearded ugly Europeans either.  (Brown, 33-34) 

Languages were also different amongst the different Native Indian groups and the Europeans and overcoming this barrier was difficult.  Missionaries and colonists had to depend on interpreters to communicate with the Native Indians. (Font, 120) (lect. Oct. 15th)  The difficulties arising upon European arrival in the New World are a proof of the great disparity in many areas between the two groups. The Native Indians and Europeans also had different views on religion.  The Native Indians had a spiritual concept where every action and object related to the spiritual world whereas Christianity emphasized a difference between the physical and spiritual world with mediators such as head priests between the two worlds.  (lect. Oct. 10th)  The increasing trade that took place between Europeans and Native Indians displays that they were interdependent and thus producers of different goods. (lect. Oct. 10th) The Native Indians traded food and raw materials and the Europeans traded manufactured weaponry and other iron-made products. (Merrel, 560) Thus they each had diverse skills that the other group lacked. 
The Natives and Europeans also had dissimilar methods and purposes of war as well.  The Europeans were skilled in advanced weaponry and the Native Indians had little defense or ability to reciprocate with their basic weapons. (Merrel, 549)  Europeans fought so that they could prove their dominance and own the land whereas the Native Indians used war to prove masculinity and wanted to use the land rather than declare it as their personal property.  (lect. Oct. 13th)  Due to these major differences in physical, social, economical, and political strength the Europeans and Native Americans had to undergo great adaptation and compromise in the New World rather than the slight interchange that occurs between similar groups. (Merrel, 537-8)  The great alteration and adjustment in Native Indian culture is the biggest evidence to support that the differences between Native Indians and Europeans outweighed the similarities. 


Europeans came to the New World in the early 1620’s. (lect. Oct. 1st)  The Seal of Massachusetts Bay colony formed in 1629 thus depicts the first impression Europeans had of the Native Indians.  The seal displays a Native Indian standing helplessly in a field holding a bow and arrow pleading for European help.  It illustrates that the Indians did not know how to farm and that they did not know how to hunt and fight very well either.  The seal serves to make the Europeans appear superior in comparison to the Native Indians.  It also portrays that Europeans came to the New World because the Indians needed them rather than the actuality in which the Europeans came to reap the benefits of a discovered new land. (lect. Oct. 1st)  Europeans advertised this seal to establish superiority so that the Indians would feel more dependent on the Europeans rather than the other way around. 

In reality the Europeans had come to a faraway, new land and thus were very dependent on Native Indian produce for their basic survival.  Native Americans knew how and what to farm on the land.  Kathleen M. Brown writes that Native Indians of Virginia’s tidewater region tried to exploit the English men’s’ ‘obvious dependence upon others for agricultural and reproductive services that ensured group survival.’ (Brown, 27)  She continues to explain that ’The gentlemen and artisans who first arrive in Virginia proved to be dismal farmers, remaining wholly dependant upon native corn stores during their first three years and partially dependant thereafter.’ (Brown, 37)  Captain John Smith, leading the English in this district of Powhatan influence, himself described an English as a ‘famished man’ who was pitifully given a handful of corn and piece of bread. (Brown, 37)  This is much a much different view than what one forms upon observing the seal. 


Owing to the great amount of popularity South Carolina has received for it’s land and weather I decided to move there.  As a male colonist looking for good land, cheap and knowledgeable labor, and luxurious weather it seems perfect.  I had heard that the climate is ‘delightful, the land inviting, the soil promising, and the native plants and animals singularly useful to man’ and that the land had the ‘potential for producing a variety of marketable crops, forest products, and livestock ‘ (Merrens, Terry, 535-6) Sir Walter Raleigh had written that South Carolina is the ‘equated Paradise with latitude 35o’ and Edward Bland and many others approved.  (Merrens, Terry, 536)  I live inland and have a place on the edge of a swamp from where I can view the Negroes at work in the rice fields. (Merrens, Terry, 547)  Living inland also protects me from the unhealthy air blowing in from the sea.  I also think it is wiser to follow the trend of many of the other fellow European settlers. (Merrens, Terry, 548)


1. Gender Frontier: ‘Gender Frontier’ is the term used to describe the differences in the roles of men and women in Native Indian society to those in European society and how these differences created a boundary between the way Europeans and Native Indians interacted.   Specifically studied by Kathleen M. Brown was its effect in the interaction between Europeans and the Algonquian Native Americans.  Native women were in charge of farming, trading and many of the politically powerful tasks assigned to men in European society. (Brown, 29-30) Hence, the Native American men viewed the English men as femininely because they carried out the duties that their women performed and because they were also dependant on the Indian women for their survival and this reduced their masculinity.  (Brown, 37) The European men on the other hand thought that Native men were lazy because they made their women do all the work. (Brown, 33)  They viewed gender roles in Native American society where women were given equal rights as men rather than less as ‘unnatural.’ (Brown, 29)  The different views on the political, economical and social roles played by opposing genders caused a rift in communication between the two groups hindering the peacefulness and speed with which relationships progressed and ultimately lead to major changes on how gender was viewed in the New World by both societies. (Brown, 40-41)

2. Catawba: The Catawba were a people brought together by their cultural similarities in the changing environmental and cultural conditions within the New World.  (Merrel, 541)  The attack of the small pox epidemic, the trading with Europeans and finally the dominance of Europeans left few Indians within each original village with enough power to survive and so the Native Indians, mostly the piedmont Indians, dislocated to join the Catawba Nation populating the border between North and South Carolina. (Merrel, 539-41)  The Catawba are an example of the outcome of colonization and their study displays the situation of Native Americans after its completion.  Native Indians had been uprooted and left with a ‘profound sense of loss.’ (Merrel, 545-6) They were forced to forge new ties with the different races of the New World and to accept the English as their compatriots. (Merrel, 546-7)  To preserve their Indian identity the Catawba people united to form a ‘national’ identity in which they all spoke one language and reduced their ethnic differences. (Merrel, 549)

3. War: War in American History was a means to form an identity.  Whoever the victor of the war was chose the identity to be followed by the subjugated.  War also develops this identity.  The English in Native America were, for example, identified by their war methods and much about their moral and social identity could be assumed by these methods.  For the Iroquois Native Indians war was about fulfilling social demands, such as the demand for Iroquois men to prove their masculinity by going to war.  Another demand was the replacement of deceased community members through captives of war, a war known as a ‘Mourning War.’  Much of the cultural changes that took place in
Native Indian society arose from their interaction with Europeans during wars.  The Native headmen recognized political power and their interest and savagery in war increased as they gained European weaponry and fighting skills.  The Europeans became even more brutal in their killing ways during war and this encouraged inhumanity in their social norms.  This can be displayed in King Philip’s War/ Metacom’s Rebellion which is known as the most bloodiest war in history in which a fourth of the Native Americans were killed.  (lect. Oct. 13th)

4. Race and Color: The term ‘Race and Color’ is used to define two separate things that are unrelated but seem to be interdependent due to overpowering societal concepts.  A person is not classified in a race for the color of his skin.  Not all slaves in Native America were black and originated from Africa.  They became a race due to the way society perceived them as a group.  Race is the social significance given to observable physical differences.  It is how society forms different groups of people.  For example, the Christians versus the non-Christians or heathens were viewed as a race but not all whites were Christians and all blacks heathens.  Race and color are hence separate things and should be viewed in an unbiased and separate manner.  Observing different cultures in which races differ from one another irrelevant of skin color can prove this.  For example, the Spanish had a much more complicated view of race which was dependant on ancestry rather than the way people looked.   (lect. Oct. 17th) 

5. Matrilineal: The Iroquois men and women followed a matrilineal system of politics in which the men practiced equal political, social, and economically roles in society.  The men came to live with their wives and their wife’s family.  The women of the household decided most of the decisions about movement, trading, and social events.  (Brown, 29) The Europeans followed a social system in which the women were subordinate to the men and their activities pertained only to household chores that gave them little political, social or economic power.  This difference in the choice of gender roles as matrilineal and non-matrilineal played a big role in the development of relations between Native Indians and Europeans. (lect. Sept. 29th) (Brown, 28-29)



1a.  Although the Spanish converted many more times the people than the French they used different methods of mass conversion which led to a larger number of people with weak faith rather than the fewer converted by the French.
b. French converted approximately 10,000 native Indians within 40 years whereas the Spanish missionaries converted 26,000 in their Florida Missions alone.
c.  Franciscan friars of Spain came almost a century before the Jesuits of France came to the New World.  Franciscans came in 1524 while the Jesuits came in 1625.
d.  The French amazed the Natives by their ability to read and write and hence spread literacy during their mission whereas the Spanish tried to learn the Native languages and adopt Native Indian lifestyles to penetrate the society. 
e.  The Spanish destroyed Native Indian idols and used torture to convert people.  Those that did not convert were persecuted in society.  The French however were more successful in using the Algonquian and Iroquoian language and were trained as speakers.  They used similarities between Christianity and Native ceremonies such as the use of black robes etc. to draw the Natives to Christianity.
f.  The Indians the Spanish converted did not really understand Christianity but instead blindly followed it with little faith. (Font, 119) (lect. Oct. 6th)

2.a.  The Spanish and French missionaries both failed in different ways and for different reasons.
b.  The French baptized the dying small pox victims before their death and the Native viewed this as if the missionaries were killing their men rather than blessing them.  The Spanish tortured the non-converts and this worked against the appeal of Christianity as an inviting religion. 
c.  The Spanish were interested in the population of people converted rather than the quality of believers and thus the Native Indians were weak believers.  The French did not manage to stop the Native Indians from integrating Christianity into their own beliefs rather than convert to take it as a separate religion on its own.
d.  The Native Indians rebelled against many of the major missions established such as Mission San Diego and Mission San Juan Capistrano and killed the head priests.  The Natives rejected French priest’s efforts to alter gender roles.  The French introduced alcohol to the Natives, but the Natives used it as a means to attain spiritual power rather than abstain from it as Christians. (Serra, 403-5) (lect. Oct. 6th)

1a.  The pueblos of the Pueblo revolt and the slaves of the Stono Rebellion fought to be freed from control of different groups over them.
b.  The Pueblos did not like the religious persecutions by the Spanish.  The Spanish were overworked and disuniting and so the Pueblos seized the opportunity.  The slaves of the Stono Revolt fought against the English to preserve their freedom and right to live with dignity.  The slaves revolted upon the arrival of the English to the slave liberal Spanish territory near the Stono River.
c.  Spanish missionaries used torture as a means of conversion.  The missionaries controlled social behaviors and lifestyles of the Natives.  The British did not like the freedom provided to slaves at the small African town near the Stono River and were trying to regain power over the slaves.  (lect. Oct. 13th) (lect. Oct. 20th)

2a.  The outcome of both rebellions was different due to the different circumstances. 
b.  The Pueblos heavily outweighed the Spanish in the Pueblo Revolt and in the Stono Rebellion the English heavily outweighed the slaves.
c.  The Pueblos drove the Spanish out of their land.  The Spanish were so severely defeated that it took them 13 years to return to the land.  Over a hundred slaves were caught, executed and banished for the Stono Revolt.  50 blacks were tortured and executed compared to the 25 non-slaves killed during the revolt.  Hence, they received a severe punishment.  Both had severe impacts on future actions.
d.  The Pueblos succeeded in achieving their freedom from the Spanish, but the slaves did not manage to preserve their freedom and suffered greatly.