1. Briefly discuss (but in detail) the similarities/differences between the initial Spanish colonization of the Caribbean and the Yucatan. In your discussion include the initial reaction of the Taino and Maya to the presence of the Spanish and the rational for the Spanish conquest.
The Spanish colonization of the Caribbean and Yucatan was the campaign of the Spanish conquistadores against Postclassical Maya stares and polities specifically on the central Yucatan Peninsula. The Spanish conquest of Caribbean and Yucatan which began in the early 16th century is similar in the sense that it serves as an extension of their quest for Gold and God (Carmack, R. 2003). They conquered both the empires in Caribbean and Yucatan by simply supplanting the Indian nobles with Spanish settlers. The colonization imposed the religion of Catholicism which is a male dominates and typical military affair.
The colony gradually became a commercial enterprise however the European Spaniards remains to be a part of the colonial elite. The indigenous people of Taino attained their needs by farming or hunting, their political systems have been governed by societies. The Mayans own primitive societies for hundreds of years before the Tainos molded their cultural representation in the Mesoamerican region. Their similarities are on functional basis to search for their necessities that their societies needed during their time. This is the same reason on the vast differences in development stages between Tainos and Mayans.
The presence of the Spanish in the Caribbean where Tainos culture exists reacted with dissatisfaction and relentlessness for they felt that their culture is not extinct and must not be invaded. The Spanish conquest resulted to harsh slavery, cruel treatment and virtual extinction (Sharer, R. 1994). On the other hand, the Maya lands were poor in resources and Spanish does not have interest because they cannot seize great quantities of precious metals like gold and silver. However, the prospects of new land and acquisition of labor forces made Spanish intentions turned to the Maya region that remained restive against the Spanish rule.
Their discontentment in Yucatan later erupted into open revolt in the middle of 19th century. 2. Discuss the cultural changes that each group endured during colonization. Be sure to include specific changes that were made, by all groups, voluntarily as well as those that were the result of force (non-environmental). In addition, discuss the specific outcome of these changes and the impact they had on each group (where applicable). Here, be sure to discuss how the Maya and the Taino were able to continue with some of their respective cultural practices.
There are cultural changes that both Mayans and Tainos endured during Spanish colonization. Tainos experienced sufferings and exploitations from the hands of the Spanish conquistadores, their being gentle and unsuspecting people have been subjected to unspeakable atrocities from their oppressors. The refusal of Tainos to Spanish conquest grew physically violent over time. Their resistance with sticks and stones has no match with guns and armors of the Spanish conquerors.
This led to massive Spanish slave trade was they forced to do gold mining, providing sexual companionship and raising Spanish food. The refusal of Tainos to participate with the Spanish lifestyle being forced upon them resulted to their widespread malnutrition and suicide. The time of Spanish arrival, majority of Mayan states in Yucatan were ruled by prestigious dynasties which had been established in the wake of the 15th century (Coe, M. 2002). The Spanish succeeded in gaining an alliance with the ruling dynasties while other competing Mayan states resisted.
The Maya and the Taino were able to continue with some of their cultural practices of having their social mobility, living in extended family groups and houses were built similar to the open plaza space. Mayan society continues to practice their patrilineal and patriarchal form leading the society along one line of kinship (Gill, R. 2000). The religious aspect of Mayan was structured and significant and based on their literacy level whereas the Tainos didn’t.
The Taino’s political structure was governed by a leader called a Cacique whom they believed to God’s living representative on earth. The leader’s opinions were not queried and hereby accepted blindly by their followers. Typically, their leader is female with matrilineal family blood line in reference to their view that the life is female in origin. 3. Through comparison of cultural behavior, discuss in detail at least 3 significant similarities shared by Spanish and the Maya and at least one example of the blending of culture between the Spanish and the Taino.
The Spanish conquest of Mayan empire resulted to significant similarities in some aspects of their cultural behavior. The religious practice of Roman Catholicism is one among the similarities between Mayan and Spanish wherein several million Maya practice this kind of religion. The Maya also believed with the encouragement of fertility and importance of astronomy and astrology like Spanish that made use of these practices for their exploration and constant travel. Some aspects of cultural behavior which typically characterized worships and retaining of many elements of religion have been practice both by Mayans and Spanish.
On the other hand, there was blending of culture between Spanish and Taino in terms of being sea-going people with courage to travel on high oceans and special skills to locate their way around the world. One good example is when Columbus was amazed by finding lone Taino men who is sailing in the open ocean while making his way among the island. These Taino men followed their voyages from island to island until captured by Columbus flagship but nevertheless jumped and spirited away from the high sea.
Carmack, R. (2003). A historical anthropological perspective on civilization. Social Evolution
and History, Volume 2, No. 1.
Coe, M. (2002). The Maya. 6th Edition. New York: Tames and Hudson. Gill, R. (2000). The great Maya droughts. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press. Sharer, R. (1994). The Ancient Maya, 5th Edition. Stanford California: Stanford University Press.
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