introduction to native cultures


When the Spanish began there journey through America their influence both on the native Americans and the environment were awesome. The prime goal of the Spaniards were to transform the native Americans into tax-paying Christians. This was in contrast to the idea that their goal was to eliminate the Indians form of the Americas. Unfortunately the Spaniards took many Indians so that they may plant their Christian religion in the Indians and to use them as labor. This led many Indians to learn the customs, environment and language of the Spaniards so that they could to be able to live in the Spanish culture. Some Natives acquired the Spanish language which was the main source of their Hispanicization. This was the realization of the Indians becoming encompassed by the Spanish society. They now began to live in a Spanish ways and blend into the bottom of the Spanish totem pole. Spanish goals and plans were to involve the Indians so that they may live in their society even if at the lower end of it’s ladder.

Spanish influence was not only through the Native Americans, the southwest region of America had also had its affect. The Spaniards bringing of animals and use of land changed their habitat. Live stock brought over by the Spanish extended well across northern New Spain. As a result, these grazing animals flattened grassy areas and packed down soils, which broke down the lands. Through these worn down paths of grazing, water was able to ensue. The grasslands and wildlife disappeared with these new accustoms which led some turning into deserts.

The Indians influence in the Spaniards came in many monetarily ways. With many different foods and clothing that the Spanish had never encountered. With new foods came new crops and livestock for the Spanish. The Indians clothing consisted of many animal wools and warmth based attire.

Racial purity was a requirement for high status in Spain and its American colonies. In the urbanized New Spain, ethic origins greatly influenced the social status. For example, “Peninsulares,” those people originally from Spain held the highest rung on the societal ladder. While on the opposite end, both free and enslaved blacks comprised the lower rung. However, on the frontier, Indians, blacks, and persons of mixed color such as mestizos (a person with Indian and Spanish blood) began to make up more of the population. And as they become more adapted to Spanish culture, Indians began to feel “whiter” and mestizos too began to describe themselves an espanoles. Gradually, wealth, prestige, and occupation equally determined social status as did ethnicity and skin color.

Through such cultural and environmental changes in New Spain, the Spanish culture was presumed as the most dominant model on the frontier. Both marriage and sexual practices reflected those as in Spain and its empire. For example, the Spanish used strategies to marry themselves or their children into a better social status.

While Hispanics tried to mix Indian and Spanish culture, both sides were not congruent. The Spanish culture was more dominant than the Native American cultures. Although Spaniards ate Indian food, wore their clothes, and learned their culture, it was the Indian cultures that became influenced by the Spanish. Such dominance and profound environmental changes stated earlier accounted for the Spaniards incredible influence on Southwest America.

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