- Apr 23, 2018
Though I definitely recommend reading the book, I will try to give a summary of what I remember.I will check it out...
Basically, when the Spanish arrived in South America and the British in North America, it wasn't like there were just a few Native Americans living in primitive hunter-gatherer societies. In North America there were tribes who lived in basically small cities, sometimes with structures accommodating as many people as a small apartment block. They were extremely skilled in cultivating lands, crop rotation and such, probably more advanced in this respect than the Europeans were. Because of their tradition of hospitality, they welcomed the British, helped them to survive, just the same as the Aztecs in South America welcomed the Spanish.
Now these were times in which the Europeans lived in filthy cities, and never bathed in their entire lives. Compared to European cities, Tenochtitlan was effectively more modern, clean and beautiful. Essentially the whole notion that the Indians were "savages" is a lie, they had organized societies. Of course many tribes didn't have the European concept of property rights, which was probably for the best, but considered to be a sign that they were primitive by the incredulous Europeans.
They didn't fight wars like Europeans did. In both North American and Aztec society, if a war was to be fought then the belligerent party would visit those who they intended to declare war on, giving the reasons why war was being declared and allowing them to make redress and prevent the war. Hence when Montezuma allowed the Spanish to enter Tenochtitlan with their armies, he didn't expect them to start slaughtering people during a public meeting and dance. With the North Americans, when they fought the wars were basically symbolic, perhaps a few people would be killed over the course of a war lasting years, and it was considered most honorable to go into battle without weapons. Europeans on the other hand were accustomed to "holy war", fighting like the deity of the old testament, sparing no-one, destroying everything. Of course their old testament also justified them killing women and children, which they did en masse.
In fact they believed that large numbers of Natives dying was a sign that deity was on the side of colonizers, and was thus destroying the evil non-Christian peoples.
So effectively they literally just massacred the Natives. They believed them to be less than human, and born only for slavery. The Spanish didn't massacre so many actually, rather they enslaved them and worked them to death (it was cheaper to replace a slave than feed one properly). In any case vast numbers were killed, there were many who died from disease but also an actual genocide. There were likely between 75,000,000 and 100,000,000 on the whole American continent, of which more than 90% were wiped out.
The thing is that all this went on long after American independence. George Washington ordered massacres of Native Americans, and they continued long into the 19th century (and maybe beyond, I don't know). Of course then they were shoved onto reservations, and the history of oppression continued, as it does to the present day.