“Analyze the extent to which early European colonists viewed the Native Americans as inferior people who could be exploited for the colonists’ benefit. ” The early European colonizers of the Americas came to the New World to find sources of wealth for themselves and their country. They were greeted by Native Peoples who were later used as forced laborers to the benefit of the colonists. Most European colonizers behaved with arrogance and cruelty wherever superior power enabled them to rule over and exploit the area’s Native People.
To justify their behavior towards the Natives, the Europeans emphasized the Natives’ weaknesses and “barbaric” ways, as well as viewing them as pagans and unworthy of free will and rights. Christopher Columbus is a fine example, and one of the first perpetrators, of this attitude. After landing in the Caribbean islands, Christopher Columbus treated the islands and the Taino natives as things to be used for Spanish benefit. He saw the islands as commercial plantations to be worked by forced laborers: the Tainos.
Columbus reasoned that treating the Indians as such would ultimately benefit them by exposing them to Christianity and to Hispanic ways. Columbus believed that native Peoples, because of their unfamiliarity with Spanish customs, were best treated as slaves. He reported that “They are fit to be ordered about and made to work, plant, and do everything else that may be needed. ” Thus, the Europeans accepted Columbus’ views of the Natives as an inferior people, and dominated them .
The Europeans’ benefits from the Indians was one-sided, as the Indians received many diseases and pests from the colonizers. For the next four centuries, the Native Peoples would be actively exploited for colonists’ benefit, much to the degeneration and destruction of the Indians’ lives, traditions, and beliefs. Any resistance was put down and many were converted and baptized ‘for their own good,’ and to serve the colonists better.
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