Assimilation of Native American Cultures: An Issue of Colonization of the Americas

Assimilation of Native American Cultures: An Issue of Colonization of the Americas

In 1492 when Christopher Columbus journeyed to the “New World”, to the indigenous Arawak people of Hispanola (modern day Haiti) a new type of world indeed came into being for their tribes. This new world was one of torturous assimilation into the European social systems, and into the Christian religion. It is a topic of slavery, thievery and genocide that scars our nation’s history. From the moment when Columbus enslaved and demanded that the Arawaks provide gold, food and material goods for the Spanish Crown, assimilation of the Native Americans has been one aspect of colonization that continues to influence our history.

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            When one culture dominates over another, several things can happen. The subordinate culture might flee, they might fight back or be otherwise completely destroyed, or they might assimilate into the culture holding power. All of these things happened to the various Native American tribes as the Europeans flooded into America and colonized. Some of the Native American people were enslaved, and others were simply slaughtered. In some instances they were assimilated into the colonies culture by being required to attend church and practice Christianity. Other times they were falsely befriended so that they would ally with the Europeans and defeat other Native American tribes.

            All of these things impacted our history and continues to influence it as we see Native Americans have contributed to the colonization in various ways. Whether it had been by showing the Europeans safe foods to eat and how to gather resources from the land or by fighting against an enemy tribe with them; the European colonies owe a good part of their success to the Native Americans whom they have encountered. The colonization of Europeans into America might have encouraged the Native people to assimilate, but they still hold their own unique identities even today.

          Dubois, N. (Ed.). (2002). A Sociocognitive Approach to Social Norms. New York: Routledge.

          Miller, B. D. (2004). Cultural Anthropology (2nd Ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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