The Spanish were the most powerful of the all American colonizers. After seeing the America’s potential they wanted to enrich themselves and succeed in possessing the New World’s natural resources. Therefore, they took advantage of the natives in Caribbean and made them slaves who they forced to mine for valuables like gold and silver. In addition, they forced the American Natives to grow crops. They also ventured into other lands where they built Spanish military control posts, even though only a handful of Spaniards accepted to settle in the presumed safe and protected areas. Along with the above changes, the Spanish missionaries labored a lot to convert the native Indians into Christianity, a job they didn’t do well even though they managed to baptize some Americans. On the contrary they managed to convert them to be good farmers who later assimilated advanced agriculture into their system. The Spaniards brought with them some epidemics, European Malaida which killed so many Indians till their population declined remarkably. With time, intermarriage became common between the two cultures (Ritcher, 78).
The French were not different from the Spaniards since the New France settlement in areas with established military post only attracted a handful of people. However, unlike the Spaniards, French did not made the natives slaves, neither did they force them to farm or grow crops, but instead the exploited a different avenue. French marked the strength of the Indians rivals like Huron and started a very strong trade relationship. The French allowed the natives to do most of the work, but they were not allowed to be involved in the actual exchange of metal goods, textiles and other weapons with goods like wolves, fur and bear. Besides succeeding in avoiding slavery, they managed to convert their main trade partners like the Huron to Christianity. The missionaries were well strategized and they had to learn the local language (Van Zandt 1630).
The Dutch however chose a different path, and they didn’t go like their counterparts. To start with, Dutch didn’t see the importance of fostering Christianity or looking for the religion conversion since there were more important things to focus on. Thus, they put all their energies in trade where they succeeded in establishing strong trade relations with the locals in the now New York and current New Jersey. Like the Spaniards, the Dutch brought with them European diseases like the smallpox and the European disease which really reduced the native Indians population, particularly the Iroquois which they traded with. Additionally, the English colonizers were not different to the Spaniards, and just like the above colonizers, they succeeded in promoting trade which went a long way in promoting and strengthening partnership with the clan members (Steele, 100).
The interactions between the European colonizers, French, Spaniards, English and Dutch with the native Americans, the Indians varied in many aspects ranging from political, social and economic factors. As varied as the interaction was, there are a number of things which European colonizers gained from the natives and so are the natives. These gains enabled them to influence one another’s life. The Europeans colonizers new that they were more superior they were assured that nothing good could come from the native Indians. This was a misplaced assunption which didn’t last long in memory of many since they realized with time that the natives were of almost equal assistance. The European colonizers noted the differences in the natives dressing style, houses, agricultural practices and religion. Instead of seeing this as inferiority, they looked at it as an opportunity to benefit. Thus, they decided to seek for profit making opportunities like trade. Thus, the European colonizers started trading and this contributed into their success. Also, from the interaction, some of the natives were converted into Christians. Indeed, the interaction led into adoption and change in religion as well as increase in economic gain and economic power of the colonizers and the natives. These two factors are said to be the most important contributors which shaped the dynamics of the Spanish, Dutch, English and French and the Native Americans relationship. Following competition from the Dutch and the French on the trade and territory, the native Indians gained diplomatic, military leverage and strong economic position which enabled them to compete with the Europeans (Ritcher, 200).
The environment was very vital for the success of the colonizers and the natives. The environment dictated interaction between the Europeans and the colonizers as well as controlling the lives and the happenstances of the native Indians. The Indians didn’t have the today’s technological advancement and medical devices to fight disease, thus when the European colonizers came with some epidemics like smallpox the locals died and the population greatly declined. This is because, the indigenous people were very vulnerable to microbes and these really harmed them. Hence, from the above discussion it is apparent that in the colonial era the environment played a key role to the local’s lives.
The natives proved their consistency for being cultural land oriented as well as economically land based. The natives encourage a gentle life where the land was given to every creature and plant since every individual was free to move around until the slavery came and so the restrictions in movement and animal rearing. This didn’t stop at this but also came the restrictions of the crops to grow and the market competition for the favorite yields. Furthermore, as slaves and people under law, the crops that were introduced by the colonizers were really promoted and people were forced to grow the crops they suggested. Thus, the freedom that once existed in the land use was eliminated by these acts. The colonizers also failed to acknowledge the sacred lands which were set aside by the Native Americans for spiritual sustenance. Instead they saw these as the best places for cultivating their yields and the natives pleas were not heard (Steele, 130).
Indian lives changed remarkably. But it cost them to yield the result of success and status growth. Many a times the native Indians were taken advantage over and so did they take advantage over the colonizers. One area where Indians scored great success was being aggressive with the looming opportunities, and this enabled them to strengthen their own political and economic powers. After the war between the English and the Dutch, the Iroquois struck a deal with the victors, English and they were allowed to develop a trade and alliance agreement which led to the current New York. The Iroquois also maintained strong relationship with the French and they frequently traded and partnered in agriculture together (Van Zandt, 1610).
Richter, D. Facing East from Indian Country: A Native History of Early America, 67-231. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 2001.
Steele, I. K. Warpaths: Invasions of North America, 46-133. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
Van Zandt, C. Brothers among Nations: The Pursuit of Intercultural Alliances in Early America, 1580-1660. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.