Consequently the english generally viewed the native

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Unformatted text preview: on European character flaws. Whites were perceived as stingy and greedy with a seemingly insatiable desire for furs and hides. Natives also found them amazingly intolerant of their religious beliefs, sexual and marital arrangements, eating habits, and other customs. European architectural traditions of building permanent structures of wood and stone that precluded the ability to relocate when needed was seen as absurd. And Natives were especially repelled by the Europeans’ apparently antagonistic relationship with nature and their materialistic view of natural resources. The ways many Europeans acted further contributed to the deterioration of relationships. Christopher Columbus had started a practice of kidnapping Natives and displaying them as curiosities in European courts. When Spaniards discovered the wealth of natural resources, particularly gold, they combined exploration with conquest, enslaving the Indians, forcing them to submit to Spanish authority and depriving them of their land and culture. The Spanish soldiers and English colonists also brought terrible diseases, especially smallpox, pulmonary ailments, and gastrointestinal disorders. None of these diseases existed in the Americas prior to European contact, so Indians were not immunologically prepared.3 (Incidentally, Europeans returned to their countries with syphilis, a disease that they apparently picked up from Indians.) French contact with Indians in present- day Canada and Louisiana was more benign, primarily because French commercial interests were focused on the fur trade, and the Indians with their knowledge of the land and their specialized hunting skills made them valuable partners in the business enterprise. The French also needed a positive relationship with the Indians so that they would have allies in their wars with the British. Additionally, the French encouraged inter- marriage, which also facilitated cross- cultural communication. The children of these marriages created a whole population of Métis (people of mixed French and Indian blood) that are a recognized social group in present day Canada. The English, on the other hand, disdained the Indians and discouraged intermingling. Furthermore, unlike the Spanish (who needed the Indian labor population) and the French (who needed the Indian’s hunting expertise), the English colonial economy did not need Indians (except when they needed them as allies in their fight with the French). Consequently, the English generally viewed the Native population as an obstacle. This antagonistic English- Indian relationship led to a series of wars, all won by the English who had superior weapons. The inevitable result was that the vanquished tribesmen were forced to give up land and submit to English sovereignty, and either confine their activities to extremely limited areas or move away from the colonies’ ever expanding borders. 3Interestingly, this did not seem to be such a problem in contact with the French, perhaps because the French were fewer in number and the colonization took place in areas that were not densely populated and in wide open places. 4 Crossroads: Music of American Cultures (Barkley) Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2013 Native Americans and The United States of America When the English colonies rebelled in 1776 and formed the new nation of the United States of America, what to do with the Indians was one of the many problems facing the new government. The Treaty of Paris (1783) that formally ended the American Revolution completely ignored the Indians, leaving the founding fathers to determine their own policy. The early government’s decision is reflected in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, which states “Congress shall have Power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.” This became the basis for over 200 years of federal legisl...
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