Free Essay On Being An Indian: How It Developed And Changed
It was said that before the 1400s, there had been a series of migrations within the Bering Strait, as there were tribes from Asia that crossed this hemisphere and became hunting populations that grew rapidly along the western coast. It was believed that, there were already tribes living in South America as far back as 35,000 BC, and they reached the hemisphere through the use of boats (Burkholder and Johnson 2). These indigenous tribes had developed their own agriculture, as well as political forms even before 5000 BC. These nomadic tribes lived by hunting, gathering, and fishing, much like the way people built stone points back in 10,000 BC. They primarily depended on agriculture, making use of farming production, labor, and social separation, not to mention public construction tasks. They formed a host of civilizations, such as the Aztecs and Inkas, which altogether formed human mosaic highlighted by diverse appearances. Most of them shared a cultural tradition, especially along the Gulf of Mexico, where the rulers exercised dominion over secular and religious activities, and warfare was used to obtain sacrificial victims. Back then, being an Indian meant the use of warfare for religion, prosperity, and survival of the society.
In the Laws of Burgos sometime in 1512, there was not much development in trying to change the religious conviction of the indigenous tribes, or in changing their virtues and doctrines, according to the principles of the Christians (Simpson et al. 11). The difficulty lies on the fact that the tribal dwellings were very remote, and there was said to be an “evil inclination” on the side of both parties (Simpson et al. 12). This simply meant that the Indian tribes did not incline to the Catholic teachings of Europe, and were more likely to ignore or even combat them in war. They shifted back to their customary ways, beliefs and culture, telling the Spaniards to leave them on their own, as they had renounced their fear of them, and their teachings were contrary to their faith. However, they had to accept the Christian doctrine, which they were obligated to receive, especially during birth, death, or sickness in which they were saved from death through the advanced knowledge of the Spaniards. This they had to fulfill, to prevent their wives and daughters from being taken, in times when they get sick and had to be treated in Europe, which pulled them apart from their loved ones. Back then, being an Indian meant being totally inhabited by the Spaniards. It meant reconstructing their beliefs, principles, and doctrines, mainly because they had to.
According to the writings of Bartolomé De Las Casas, the Indians were found to be humble, pacific, peaceful, charitable, gentle, sweet and loving (38). They were good and gentle, and they strived in giving what they can to their people, even to those who come from foreign lands. However, history turned out to be hostile, as they were converted to the beliefs of the Christians, who were alien to them. Their culture, philosophies, and tradition were misplaced, which they had believed in for thousands of years. By now, being an Indian is merely a legend, as they had come to blend with other civilizations of the Western world.
Burkholder, Mark, and Lyman Johnson. Colonial Latin America, 8th edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2012.
Casas, Bartolomé De Las. Selections from Thirty Very Juridical Propositions. 2015. [name of website]. 25 February 2015 <web address>.
Columbus, Christopher. The Letter of Columbus to Luis De Sant Angel Announcing His Discovery (1493). 2015. [name of website]. 25 February 2015 <web address>.
Simpson, Lesley Byrd. The Laws of Burgos. San Francisco, CA: John Howell Books, 1960.
Stevens, Henry. The New Laws of the Indies. London: The Chiswick Press, 1893.