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How Would You Characterize the Attitudes of European Explorers Towards the Newly Discovered Natives? What Would Be the Single Biggest Factor to Describe Their Ignorance?

By: vaenc123  •  October 29, 2018  •  Essay  •  843 Words (4 Pages)  •  27 Views

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Vaenc Xheblati

Colonization Thru Civil War (HIS-151-02)

24, September 2018

Response Paper 1

How would you characterize the attitudes of European explorers towards the newly discovered Natives? What would be the single biggest factor to describe their ignorance?

        The Spanish attitude towards the Natives, believed they were a superior race and that it was their duty to convert the Natives to Christianity. The very first people to settle were deeply religious, and the Native Americans were not. The Spanish just wanted their land and natural resources. The Encomienda System, for example, allowed Spanish conquistadors to take land from Natives and basically turn them into slaves as long as they converted into Christianity.

        According to the article “Juan Gines de Sepulveda Belittles the Indians (1547)” Juan Sepulveda was a Spanish philosopher and proponent of colonial slavery. The article informs how the Spanish called the natives a “barbaric” society. The Spanish wanted to convert the Indians into Christianity or destroy them. Sepulveda audience is mainly the Spanish royalty, and also the Christian community.  Sepulveda explains what the government of the Natives was like, and insults them so his audience could have a feeling whether the Natives should be captured into slavery or converted.

“Well, then, if we are dealing with virtue, what temperance or mercy can you expect from men who are committed to all types of temperance and base frivolity, and eat human flesh?” Sepulveda talks about how he saw the government with no written laws and dangerous, wild people. What self-control or mercy can you expect from men who are committed to all types of greed and base partying/silliness, and eat human flesh? Sepulveda had nothing positive to say about the Natives, he feels that they are far from being civilized people.

I believe that Sepulveda was trying to persuade and converting the Natives into slavery. Because of how useless they looked he wanted to make them look even worse than they actually were. The Natives were really crafty so that was good news for Sepulveda. All that Sepulveda wants is a group of slaves that later would be converted to Christianity for the use and the good of the Spanish goals.

However in the article “Bartolome de Las Casas Defends the Indians” attitude towards the Natives is very different from Juan Gines de Sepulveda.  Bartolome de Las Casas was born in Sevile, Spain. Las Casas left his home for Hispaniola with Nicolas de Ovando, the governor. He was the first ordained priest in the New World.  He witnessed how the Natives were being treated and believed that that was not the right thing. “ (Granting that we call them barbarians and that they are barbarians) there are important kingdoms, large numbers of people who live settled lives in a society, great cities, kings, judges and laws.” He is defending them, saying that even if they are barbarians, they have their own values and they have laws that are unique to them. He also goes against Sepulveda, saying that he spoke wrongly and viciously against the natives.  He also welcomes the Natives and wants peace. He goes against everything Sepulveda said about the Natives. “They will embrace the teaching of the gospel, as I well know, for they are not stupid or barbarous but have a native sincerity and are simple, moderate”.  He is basically saying that they are not educated enough and they can learn.  

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