Europeans Arrive in America
• The debate of who came first to America
• Spain, France, and Britain dominated the
struggle for domination and had the most
enduring effects on Indian America
• Native America through European Lens –
judged Indians by European values, social
orders, and gender norms
• Europeans did not think they were displacing
existing civilizations
• The notion of Indians as “noble savages”
endured due to the writings of Columbus and
those that followed
• Columbian Exchange – an exchange of goods
and ideas between Native Americans and
European colonists
• Biological Catastrophes – small pox, measles,
bubonic plagues, influenza, cholera, etc.
• The impacts of increased warfare, slave
raiding, famine, and other traumas of
colonization caused numbers in Indian
populations to decrease
A Mission for Gold & God
• Following 1492, Spaniards came into contact
with Indians from Florida to California, to the
Great Plains
• The Spanish believed they had a divine and
royal mandate to reduce Indian people to
• Requerimiento – a document allowing
Spaniards to justify conquest & atrocities that
occurred in the “New World”
Spanish Expeditions
• Hernan Cortes’ topple of the Aztec empire
encouraged Spaniards to explore other areas
of America
• Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca’s adventures in
• Hernando de Soto’s brutality in southeastern
• Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s expeditions
Valladolid Debate (1550-1551)
Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda
Bartolomé de las Casas
Las Casas
• Natives are human beings
• Natives are naturally
“created in God’s image”
inferior, submissive, and
• “All the peoples of the world
according to Aristotle
are men and thus possess
“slaves by nature”
natural rights, including the
right to liberty.” No to
• Conquering people is good
when it helps the growth of
• The natives natural society
the Christian religion.
and customs, however
• Natives are “inferior to the
horrible, express a desire for
Spaniards just as children
the good.
are to adults, women to
• The natives have an inborn
men, and indeed, one might
and instinctive sense of God
say, as apes are to men.”
and worship this supreme
power according to their own
To Colonize & Christianize
• Spaniards established missionaries throughout
the Americas and aimed in Christianizing
Indian people and utilize them for labor
• Encomienda system – a compromise in which
Indian workers worked for a plantation owner
in exchange for learning Christianity
• Repartimiento system -
Indians Confront the French
• Montagnais Indians confront the French
• Early French explores of present day Quebec
and Montreal – Jacques Cartier & Samuel de
• “Our young men will marry your daughters,
and we shall be one people”
• Learning Native languages and ways of living
allowed the French to gain access to fur
• The Natives pursued alliances with the French
as a means of securing European trade goods
• The Catholic religion in New France
• Kateri Tekakwitha – a Mohawk woman who
was a devout Catholic
• Confronted with the threat of English settlers
intruding on their lands, many Indians saw the
French as their best hope for protection and
military support
Indians Confront the English
• The English were latecomers in the invasion
and colonization of North America
• King James I eyed North America as a possible
location for English colonies that could be as
profitable as the Spanish colonies
• Treaty of Tordesillas – A treaty signed between
Spain & Portugal
• The Virginia Company – English investors who
financed colonies in North America
Chesapeake Colonies in the 17th century
Jamestown Settlement
• Englishmen arrived at the mouth of the
Chesapeake Bay on April 26, 1607
• Were cautious of Native American and
Spanish attacks
• Powhatan’s people defended Virginia as their
• Settlers confronted hardships such as
starvation and harsh weather
• This engraving, published in
1612, was copied from an
original drawing John White
made in 1585 when he visited
the village of Secotan on the
coast of North Carolina
•The drawing provides a
schematic view of daily life in the
village, which may have
resembled one of Powhatan’s
• In 1612, John Smith
published a detailed map that
showed not only geographic
features of early Virginia but
also the limits of exploration
(indicated by small crosses),
locations of houses of he
Indian “kings” (indicated by red
boxes), and “original houses”
of indigenous people (indicated
by dots)
• In 1612, John Smith
published this list of the
English equivalents of words
used by Powhatan’s people,
almost the only record of the
coastal Algonquian language
that exists
• This was an advertisement
for the Jamestown settlers
• Virginia imported
thousands of indentured
servants to labor in the
tobacco fields, but the
colony also advertised in
1631 for settlers like those
pictured here
•The notice features men
and women in the
Chesapeake region
Cooperation & Conflict Between Natives &
• The Virginia Company boasted that the
settlers bought from the Indians “the pearls of
earth [corn] and [sold] to them the pearls of
heaven [Christianity]”
• Powhatan’s people regarded the English with
suspicion but concluded that they would make
better allies than enemies
• The trade that supplied the Indians with
European conveniences: food
• Why were the settlers unable to feed
themselves for more than a decade? Too sick
to be productive members of the colony & few
farmers came to Virginia in the early years
• Growing enough corn to feed the English
boosted the workload of Indian women and
altered age old patterns of village life
• Before 1622, the colonist depended on the
natives to stay alive, after 1622, the natives
were considered their personal enemies
Puritans in the Americas
• Puritans who emigrated aspired to escape the
turmoil and persecution of England and to
build a new, orderly, Puritan version of
• Established the first small settlement in New
England in 1620 and expanded to
• Puritan missionaries worked to convert
Natives to Christianity
New England Colonies in the 17th century

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