Difference Between the European and Native American Perspective – Sociology Essay
The European culture clashed with the Native American way of living largely due to barriers caused by the greed of the European mentality. The Spanish conquistidors arrived in the Western Hemisphere seeking fortune and fame. Christopher Columbus desired a shorter trade route to India.
The settlers at Jamestown came seeking gold rumored to be in the New World. The French founded trapping camps in Northern America to gain pelts, valuable in Europe. All of these adventurers and fortune seekers left behind them a trail of shear devastation among the indigenous inhabitants.
Plague and small pox spread among the Natives, killing thousands. Tribes where forced off land that they had lived on for uncountable years. Those that did not willingly leave where murdered or worse, enslaved. All of this devastation happened because of differences in cultures and beliefs. The Europeans saw themselves as champions of the civilized world, and saw the natives as uneducated savages. The result was a near genocidal catastrophe.
The Europeans that arrived on the shores of the New World where under a monarchist government system. They lived in a world where orders where given and obeyed out of fear of punishment. The empowered owned all of the land, in fact, the social standing of a man was based on the amount of property he owned. The man with the most property had the highest rank in the social hierarchy. Thus, the ruling monarch was the highest because they controlled the most land. The desire to obtain more land and esentually material wealth was engrained into the minds of the men that sailed for America from the shores of Europe.
The Natives living in America before the arrival of the first white settlers were not united under one ruling monarch, or even one centeral government. They instead lived in a tribal anarchy system, that consisted of several families binding together to create several small cultures over a large geographic area. This bands of families, or tribes, each had a system of laws and beliefs that where followed out of respect and honor, instead of fear of punishment. The tribes all had different means of survival based on the resourses available from the land. Some tribes where nomadic hunter/gathers, while others built villages based around agriculture or fishing. The Natives gave to the earth what they took and lived in harmony with nature. When the European explorers arrived and tried to offer the Natives material objects for their land the natives did not understand what they Europeans where asking. The concept of owning pieces of the earth did not make sense to them. How can one man own what is for all men? The Europeans could not grasp the communal mentality of the Natives, and desired their land. When the Natives would not leave their villages and move to less desirable land, the Europeans decided to take by force and disease the land occupied by the Native Americans.
The women of European society had little to no social status aside from royalty, which where born into power. They were treated as second class citizens and where looked at with a “don’t speak until spoken to” mentality. Seen as objects more than people, women were neglected in politics. The thought of a women being a warrior was a laughable concept in the European mind. Women were for sex, child birth, servitude, and little else.
In the eyes of the European soldiers that landed on the shores of the New World to be met by fierce warriors was unexpected. To be met often times by fierce women warriors had to have been an amazing culture shock. In many Native American societies women played a large role in tribal affairs. Female chiefs received the same respect and held the same authority as any male chief did.