Since the first landing of Christopher Columbus in 1492, Native Americans were grossly mistreated, with many of them being enslaved, forced to convert to Christianity or murdered. Queen Isabella of Spain had actually decreed that the Natives were to be treated as subjects of the Spanish empire, and would therefore have the same rights as citizens, although this was almost immediately ignored.Know More
In fact, Christopher Columbus, against the orders of Queen Isabella, enslaved 500 Natives and sent them to Spain. When Queen Isabella heard of this, she said the slaves were to be freed and sent back to Hispaniola. This would be the beginning of a long-standing conflict between the policy of Spain and the actual actions that were carried out during the colonial period.
The Natives were constantly brutalized. When some rebelled, they were either killed or captured as prisoners of war and then enslaved. Each Native was required to bring the Spanish a certain amount of gold every 90 days. Failing to do so resulted in execution.
This brutal treatment of Native Americans extended to other territories, like Puerto Rico, Cuba and Jamaica. The Natives virtually disappeared from these areas, as most were either murdered or killed by the bacteria of European diseases, of which they had no biological immunity.
New laws, called "encomienda," were created that declared the Natives were part of the land. So, when settlers bought land, they also bought the inhabitants of the area. The Natives were then legally forced into enslavement. A similar law, called "mitad," forced Natives who lived within 30 miles of a mine to work there for 6 months. The work was deadly and almost always fatal, where only 1/5 of those sent to work in the mines survived.Learn more about Exploration & Imperialism
Many white reformers believed that Native Americans should assimilate into white culture by giving up their own cultures and traditions. This goal was largely accomplished by the forced removal of Native American children from their homes.Full Answer >
After migrating to North America around 11,000 years ago, Native Americans grew corn, maize, beans and squash. They hunted, built homes out of branches and animal skins, practiced tribal religions, enjoyed music and dancing, and used stories to pass on their culture and history.Full Answer >
The Native Americans did not speak one language, but had different languages for different trips and areas. Once the Europeans arrived, many Native Americans learned to speak English to be able to communicate. By the first part of the 20th century, many natives were put into schools and forbidden to speak their native tongue.Full Answer >
Several theories exist on the origins of the Native Americans, including the Land Bridge Theory, the Atlantic Theory and the Solutrean Hypothesis. However, there is no clear archaeological evidence to completely sustain any of these theories.Full Answer >