Spanish Conquistadors: Heroes or Murderers
"The Indians in the first fatal decades of the white man in America were conquered because they could not conceive what it was that the white man was after, and what manner of man he was." (The Indians of the Americas, p97)
This misconception, was that the Indians could not imagine was that the Spanish Conquistadors would come to the Americas and brutally murder men women and children in the name of a god. They could not see how a group of people could follow such a god. The Spanish conquistadors raped the American natives of their naiveness. The Spanish conquistadors took away the Indians right to their way of life and their land.
Living in the United States of America, it's hard to imagine a group of people coming into our country, and taking our land. But this event has already happened, almost 500 years ago. The people who dominated the United States before the Spanish invasion roamed among a 2 large continents. Today the Indians are restricted to reserves or "reservations". Their land has been taken from them, and little if any was given in return. The people who live among these reservations try to preserve the "old way of life."
Another thing taken from the Indians of Americas was their way of life. One thing almost all people hold close to their heart is their way of life whatever it may be. The Indians however were persecuted for their beliefs and either killed or converted to the "Spanish Catholicism" or many other varying ways of life. This conversion did not take place peacefully. Many resisting Indians died for their cause. The Indians of the Americas could no longer hunt and gather food freely. Nor could they farm just for their community. Strong men were taken as slaves either to Hispañola (Modern Day Haiti), Cuba or taken back to Spain. Such slaves were often worked to death, because of the seemingly endless supply of American Indians. Other Indians were forced to pay tribute to the Spanish by working on farms to feed the invaders when they themselves were barely nourished enough to live. Some American Indians went so far as to commit mass suicides and not to have children, because they knew their fate if they were to go on living or to bring another child into the world only to see him or her worked to death (Collier, 63). Another very important factor in the demise of Native American Indians was disease, the native Americans had no immunity to the European diseases. A large percentage of the American Some natives died from "Alien diseases." As the population of the American Indians decreased the Spanish had to bring more and more native Spanish people. American Indians became Catholic and intermarried with the Spanish. Other natives moved to desolate mountains in Mexico in order to preserve the "Indian way of life."
The majority of the American inhabitants also lost something that would never be restored, their respect for nature. While Spain, Portugal, Northern China, and other countries were taking from nature without remorse, the American Indians respected nature so much that their way of life was altered to preserve the environment that they had. The Indians gave back what they took. They lived for the environment. Only recently have countries like the United States of America looked at these concepts with anywhere near the intensity of the Indians of the Americas. What has been lost may never be restored. The current inhabitants of the Americas do not have the same respect as the Incans or the Aztecs or the Pueblos. Instead of paying tribute to the environment the Spanish paid tribute to the King or the Queen and God. In turn the Spanish demanded that the American Indians pay tribute to themselves; taking from the earth and not giving back.
All of these factors contributed to the downfall in of great Empires. This downfall was not a peaceful transfer of power but, a ruthless murder of millions of Indians living in the Americas. These ideas are hard to imagine, people coming and taking your house, your way of life, and making you work until you die. And if they couldn't didn't die then they would most probably die of a foreign disease. In my idea there is no parallel to this monumental mass murder. 95% of the population was depleted. Although the chances of this happening in our own country are slim, the United States of America, the consequences are unimaginable. But, what would happen if another country "raped" the USA?
1.) Aiton, Arthur Scott. Antonio de Mendoza. New York: Russell & Russell, 1967.
2.) Collier, John. The Indians of the Americas. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1947
3.) Lummis, Charles Fletch. Spanish Pioneers and the California Missions. Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co., 1930