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Chapter 1 Lecture. Essential Question: What happens when cultures collide?. The Big Idea. Everything you learn in class will be organized under an essential question – the big idea. As you read chapter 1 and watch this PowerPoint, consider the essential question from the first slide.

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chapter 1 lecture

Chapter 1 Lecture

Essential Question:

What happens when cultures collide?

the big idea
The Big Idea
  • Everything you learn in class will be organized under an essential question – the big idea. As you read chapter 1 and watch this PowerPoint, consider the essential question from the first slide.
  • Our conversations the first week back from school will center on the essential question.
two general views of indians
Two General Views of Indians
  • Many Europeans viewed Native Americans as either noble “savages” that were innocent, kind, and respectful of the environment.
  • Another group of Europeans viewed Native Americans as dishonest, manipulative, and totally willing to drastically alter the physical landscape.
    • Which view makes more sense to you?

Your mom.

Dude, Indians are innocent and noble.

These two guys were the ones who came up with the different views of Native Americans.

De Las Casas


Two Franciscan monks in Spain, De Las Casas and Sepulveda, migrated to South America. They had a bro-mance until their views of Native Americans made them into “frenemies.”

the black legend
The Black Legend

De Las Casas’ view was popular in England because he said the Spanish killed, tortured, and stole in the Americas, while contributing nothing good. This became known as the Black Legend.

Of course, England would believe anything that made Spain look bad, since Spain and England did not like each other.

De Las Casas

So, who is more correct, De Las Casas or Sepulveda?

who was more correct de las casas or sepulveda
Who was more correct, De Las Casas or Sepulveda?
  • The answer is probably a bit of both.
    • Let’s take a look at the Indian peoples of North and South America before Columbus arrived (that is, before 1492).
    • Let’s also take a look at the initial impact of Indian and European interactions after 1492.
the americas
The Americas…

The Indian peoples of the Americas were divided into many diverse cultures speaking more than two thousand different languages.

Native Americans in North and South America had complex societies with alliances and enemies, just like the Europeans.

the americas1
The Americas…

One example is the Iroquois Confederacy.

Five Indian nations created a military alliance and promised to help each other in order to defeat their enemies.

The Confederacy remained strong until the American Revolution in 1776!

the americas2
The Americas…

Mayan Empire

Aztec Empire

Another example were the Aztec, Mayan, and Incan Empires waged large-scale wars, created alliances, and greatly altered the environment.

the americas3
The Americas…
  • Some Native Americans, like the Arawak of the Caribbean, were very kind and generous.
  • They had few enemies and seemed to respect each other and the environment.
meanwhile in europe
Meanwhile in Europe…

The Christian Crusaders brought back to Europe a taste for the silks and spices of Asia.

You studied the Crusades way back in World History class – remember?

Who was that cute guy I sat next to?

meanwhile in europe1
Meanwhile in Europe…

Spain kicks out Muslim invaders and unifies itself as a country.

Unite all the kingdoms under one king and queen. Wad ya say y’all?

Queen Isabela

Spain is unified under one queen. This allows them to concentrate their efforts on exploration instead of political infighting.

Spain becomes the most powerful country in Europe because the rest of Europe is still fighting with one another.

meanwhile in europe2
Meanwhile in Europe…

Christopher Columbus thinks there’s a shorter route to all those riches in Asia; he sails West from the newly unified country of Spain.

Spices and silks from Asia were transported by ship around Africa back to Europe– way lame.

the collision of cultures begins
The Collision of Cultures Begins

Columbus thinks he’s in India (hence the term “Indians”).

He expects to find gold, jewels, silk, and spices.

Where’s the love bro?

The Norse got to North America before Columbus, but they don’t get the credit.

the collision of cultures begins1
The Collision of Cultures Begins
  • Instead of the riches from Asia, Columbus discovers about 20 million “Indians” in North America.
  • Instead of bringing back tons of gold, he brings back a few Indians, as well as maize (corn), beans, and tomatoes. Europe (the Old World) s the vegetables.

Many Indians loved squash but it’s not popular in Europe

the collision of cultures begins2
The Collision of Cultures Begins
  • But Spain doesn’t want veggies, they want gold and Columbus needs to pay back the money he borrowed for his voyages.
  • Columbus decides to take Indian slaves back to Spain to sell. Most of the Indians die on the way to Europe.
  • So, Columbus and some other Spaniards decide to copy what the Portuguese had done.
the collision of cultures begins3
The Collision of Cultures Begins
  • The first ocean explorers were Portuguese (remember Ferdinand Magellan?).

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to enter the slave trade and establish large-scale plantations using slave labor.

Columbus totally copies the Portuguese.

The natives of these Islands were enslaved by the Portuguese

Portugal was an early colonial competitor to Spain.

the collision of cultures begins4
The Collision of Cultures Begins
  • Encomiendas!!
    • The large-scale plantations that used Indians as slave labor in the Caribbean and South America were called encomiendas.
    • Encomiendas were supposed to convert the Indians to Christianity.
    • In return for saving their souls from Hell the Indians were supposed to work for the Spaniards.

The encomiendas grew the veggies and spices Europe demanded.

Encomiendas also supplied the food and resting areas for Conquistadors going to South America.

the collision of cultures begins5
The Collision of Cultures Begins
  • Many Spaniards treated the Native Americans terribly on the enconmienda.

Umm… yea.. about that…

De Las Casas sees this and eventually flips out. He wrote a book about what he saw.

the collision of cultures begins6
The Collision of Cultures Begins

Hernan Cortes

The Conquistadors set sail from the Caribbean encomiendasand began to conquer Central and South America.

Francisco Pizarro

the collision of cultures begins7
The Collision of Cultures Begins

Hernan Cortez conquered the Aztecs because the Aztec ruler Montezuma believed the Conquistadors were gods. What an epic fail.

“La Malinche” was born to a small , fearful tribe between the mighty Aztec and Mayan empires. She spoke many languages and served Cortes (even had a baby with Cortes!) in his conquest of the Aztecs. Pay-backs are a b**ch!

the collision of cultures begins8
The Collision of Cultures Begins

Much worse than European conquest, colonization, and encomiendas to the Indians were their lack of resistance to diseases like malaria and smallpox.

The initial number of Native Americans in the Americas is debatable, so it’s difficult to determine exactly how many Native Americans were killed by European contact, but as much as 90% of some Native populations died from disease.

sepulveda v de las casas
Sepulveda v. De Las Casas
  • Which view is more accurate of Native Americans? Why?
  • What ideas do the two debaters share?
  • How much truth is there to the Black Legend?
  • What were the consequences of two cultures colliding?