Colonial Life and the Characteristics of Civilization
New Spain – The Spanish conquistadors and slavers, who first arrived into places such as the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida, usually came with groups of colonists, soldiers, and slaves. They were sometimes welcomed by the natives, like the Pueblos, who evacuated one of their villages for Juan de Onate and his followers to use. The Aztecs invited Hernan Cortez and his troop into their then great city, Tenochtitlan. The Spanish often mistook the courtesy of these tribes as subservience, forcing their way into villages, enslaving natives and/or killing them.
They were used for their labor, knowledge of the land, agricultural skills, precious metals and goods, but given no respect as humans. The natives were treated as second class citizens in their own homeland almost immediately by the Spanish. New France – A few years after France had established a permanent colony in 1605, Samuel de Champlain aligned himself with the local tribes, the Montagnais, Algonquians and Hurons. The Frenchman traded textiles, glass, copper, and ironware with the natives. Before long metal tools such as knives and brass kettles were improving their lives.
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Though grateful for these commodities, they only considered the French true allies when Champlain fought alongside them against their enemies, the Mohawks. In exchange for his goods and services, the natives gave otter, raccoon and beaver pelts. Champlain went as far as encouraging several of his people to live with Indian families to better understand them and strengthen their bond. Rather than trying to conquer the Native Americans in that area, The French were willing to partner with them. Organized Religion New France – Jesuit friars came to New France in the 1610s.
Jesuits were members of the Society of Jesus. Soon after learning the language of the people, the missionaries began their mission to try and convert the Indians. Merely tolerating them, the natives had no intentions of becoming Christians. The natives had their own system of beliefs and would not part with them easily. Champlain began insisting that trading partners accept Christianity as their new faith. They manipulated the Indians by paying more for furs and goods to those who had converted. This helped the French in their desire to gain power in this region.
Although the French seemed to be more helpful than harmful to the natives, the pressure from Jesuits caused problems within tribes, especially the Hurons. This religious tension created a rift between, not only members of the tribes, but the tribes themselves. New Spain – Franciscan monks were a religious order founded by St. Francis of Assisi. Similar to the Jesuits, they lived with and ministered the poor. Upon arriving in the Americas with Columbus on his second trip, the king quickly utilized their presence to gain control in New Mexico and Florida.
With rival colonies and pirates causing issues, he wanted to keep Florida under as much control as possible. His administrators convinced natives to only trade with the Spanish, to aid the Spanish in war, and to even pay taxes to them. After making alliances with the Indian communities, Spain made them accept a few soldiers and some the Franciscans into their villages. The Franciscans were responsible for the baptism of possibly 26,000 Native Americans. Just as the Jesuits had introduced Christianity to the Indians in that region and created problems for the tribes, the Pueblo began seeing a decline in their culture.
Hoping to restore what was left of their faith, some of the elders revolted. This was the most successful uprising in the Americas. Urbanization New Spain – Spain controlled many towns, cities and farming villages around the regions of New Mexico and those that had once belonged to the Aztecs. These areas were still heavily populated despite the threat of illness and brief periods of war. Some places, such as Texas, where few people seem to settle because of the harsh conditions, were in danger of being taken over by other European colonists.
A French explorer, Robert de La Salle, was prepared to invade Texas with the help of thousands of Indians. To prevent losing the remarkable silver mines, in 1690, near the San Antonio River, Spain began establishing missions, presidios and civilian settlements. They sent agents to recruit in their other colonies and converted natives, convincing a few of them to stay in the new colony of San Antonio. Though they contributed to the population, Indians often came and went as they pleased and more often than not died from the diseases brought over from Europe.
By 1760, San Antonio’s population was only home to less than 3,000 people. New France – France’s imperial reach was quite vast. New France, New Netherlands and Louisiana, which stretched from as low as New Orleans to as far north as modern day Montana and into Canada, were all under French rule. Despite this, most were citizens of Quebec, the capital of New France, Montreal and other areas along the St. Lawrence River. With only a boost from a colonization program in the 1660s and 1670s, the French population basically thrived well on its own.
Jesuits who spoke the language of the natives were converting many of them to Christianity. Greatly in part to the encouragement of those such as Champlain, local tribes and the new French-Americans began to live within the same communities, increasing the population naturally. These colonists created farming communities up and down the river. The valley was filled with about 75,000 French colonists, soldiers and priests by 1760. Government New France – Cultural differences often seemed to be irreconcilable between the Native Americans and the French. None were more difficult to bridge as those concerning law.
In one incident, a group of men affiliated with Ottawa leader Le Pesant killed a priest and French soldiers. French authorities demanded that he be turned over to them to be tried in court. Offering to replace the dead Frenchmen with Indian slaves, Ottawa leaders tried to compromise with this common remedy used in cases of murder between allies. Le Pesant was a powerful figure within his community and his execution would have been a political consequences. After being turned over to the French commander at Fort Detroit and condemned to death, Le Pesant escaped.
This didn’t seem like because of his old age and obesity. The French and Indians had come to a conclusion that Le Pesant would be surrendered, and once condemned, allowed to escape. This type of compromise satisfied both sides and became a solution to later French-Indian murder cases. New Spain – In New Mexico, surrounded on all sides by unconquered Indians, Spain could only control the few missions, towns and presidios that they already had. Apaches were the most threatening at one point, raiding colonies for their goods and causing destruction anywhere they could.
Spain replied with slave raids on Apache camps but this only increased the violence. By the 1730s, the Comanche Indians arrived with the purpose of territorial expansion. They allied with Indians who could provide French guns and ammunition, and road European horses that they had recently integrated into their lives. Spaniards found themselves in constant battle with the two tribes, but by 1786, mostly everyone had grown tired of fighting. Comanche leader named Ecueracapa helped strike a deal between Spanish authorities and native groups such as the Utes, Navajos and Apaches.
With a peace agreement in place, New Spain entered a period of expansion and economic growth, not only for the Spanish but the Indians as well. Art/Culture New Spain – Although sometimes living in poverty and isolated from others like them, Hispanics kept hold of their distinctive traditions. They had bullfights and hunts in the countryside, and parties were they displayed such dances as the fandango. Thanks to the now peaceful times in New Mexico, by the late 18th century, a culture started to emerge. The Laguna Santero, a master craftsman, defined this movement by training locals in his workshops.
They began making beautiful portraits, wooden statues and paintings. On the contrary, the Indians’ culture was already developed. Many of the objects used by the Indians, such as clothes and weapons, were a form of art because they were hand-crafted for various purposes with care and decoration. Native American art included several forms, including the making of deerskin storage bags, gourds made into cups, wood and bones made into plates and spoons, and the handcrafting of pots. New France – The French and Native American cultures seemed to fuse almost immediately.
Fond of fur, French colonist took beaver and raccoon pelts from their new neighbors and made hats and small articles of clothing with the skins. European textiles were incorporated into Algonkin and Huron sashes produced by the traditional finger-weaving technique, itself practiced well before the arrival of the French settlers. The Iroquois were the first natives to use wampum belts for messages and glass beads on patterned clothing, instead of the traditional natural materials. The Cree adopt a European fashion by slicing their parkas vertically up the front.