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Colonial Survival, Prosperity, and Entitlement in the New World Essay

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Christopher Columbus attempt to find a quick route to Asia resulted in a failure of epic proportions: Columbus failed to find Asia and, instead, began one of the longest and most prolific examples of cultural repression in history. Columbus, along with those who followed him to the ‘New World’ brought with them a fundamental belief in cultural superiority that defined the European invasion and infestation. These attitudes had a significant and long-term impact on the native cultures and provided the Europeans with justification for the position of power of which they grabbed hold. The Europeans, however, owe the Native Americans a great debt of gratitude: without the Native Americans, Europeans would have either starved or left for lack of purpose and would not have developed any sort of economy – particularly one predicated in the contributions of their inferiors.
The attempt to homogenize Native Americans as a single people or culture is severely misguided. “At the time of their first contacts with Europeans at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere represented over 2,000 separate cultures, spoke several hundred different languages, and made their living in scores of different environments.” (Faragher 2) These cultures may well share a common ancestor, however, this theoretical ancestor is near his descendents in neither time nor place. The proximity of the relationship in both regards is not altogether different than that of a theoretical ancestor to all Europeans. In addition to being a disparate group, the ‘Indians’ of Columbus’s ‘New World’ were part of highly advanced cultures. Groups throughout North America had made significant advances in farming, technology, politics, and gen...


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...cle was a major cause for the success. Without non-white peoples to conquer, Western Europe (and western civilization in general) would never have amassed the degree of wealth and power that allowed them to maintain both the façade of cultural superiority as well as political, economic, and military dominance that protected and insulated their reign.


Works Cited
Faragher, John M., Mari J. Buhle, Daniel Czitrom, and Susan H. Armitage. Out of Many. 6th ed. Vol. 1. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009. Print.
Andrea, Alfred J., and James H. Overfield. The Human Record: Sources of Global Hisotry. 6th ed. Vol. 2. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2009. Print.
Axtell, James. "Colonial America without the Indians: Counterfactual Reflections." The Journal of American History 73.4 (1987): 981-96. JSTOR. Web. 21 Sept. 2009. .


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