Native Americans had inherited the land now called America and eventually their lives were destroyed due to European Colonization. When the Europeans arrived and settled, they changed the Native American way of life for the worst. These changes were caused by a number of factors including disease, loss of land, attempts to export religion, and laws, which violated Native American culture.
Native Americans never came in contact with diseases that developed in the Old World because they were separated from Asia, Africa, and Europe when ocean levels rose following the end of the last Ice Age. Diseases like smallpox, measles, pneumonia, influenza, and malaria were unknown to the Native Americans until the Europeans brought these diseases over time to them. This triggered the largest population decline in all recorded history. Fifty percent of the Native American population had died of disease within twenty years. Soon after, Native Americans began to question their religion and doubted the ability of shamen to heal. This was the first step towards the destruction of Native cultures. The Native Americans had never experienced anything like these deadly diseases before and they came to believe that Europeans had the power to kill or give life.
Many Native groups, because they were nomadic, didn’t see land as belonging to one person. The idea that someone could come in, claim a piece of land and ban them from it, caused many problems. They could no longer hunt or forage for food in places they had always done so. Fights over territories began to break out and groups who always had plenty of food, now barely had enough.
Many Christian missionaries tried to force Native American people to abandon traditional religious beliefs and practices (Mayo, 33). Christian missionaries would sometimes launch attacks on Native American religious institutions when forcing them to convert to Christianity did not work. These harmful attacks destroyed not only their temples and religious artifacts, but also a huge part of their culture.
Laws were introduced that protected the land and property the colonists had acquired, banned most of their religious ceremonies, and forced the children into the European educational system. The Europeans wanted to deny the Native Americans of their cultural identity, which eventually would end up wiping them out.
Native Americans were deeply effected by colonization. It was extremely unfair of the Europeans to destroy Native American way of life. If the Native Americans had the weapons, like guns and disease, that the Europeans did, then maybe they could have fought for what was theirs. Europeans came to America and changed the Native Americans lives forever. This contact between the Native Americans and Europeans was called the Columbian Exchange. While both Native Americans and Europeans received advantages and disadvantages from the Columbian Exchange, Native Americans definitely suffered more while the Europeans were benefited more. It is not right that the Native Americans lived on American land all their lives and had the land as well as their
culture taken away from them in a matter of only a few years.
Mayo, Louise A. American Dreams and Reality: A Retelling of the American Story, Volume 1 Second Edition. Illinois: Abigail Press, 2000.
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