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American Histories from Different Chronological Perspectives

Introduction

This essay seeks to compare, contrast, evaluate and analyze the American histories from different chronological perspectives. It first addresses the aspect of cultural diversity by investigating into the similarities and differences between the American cultures before1492. It also explains and critically evaluates how the British, French and Spanish colonization impacted on the Native Americans between 16th and 18th centuries timeline. Lastly, cultures of the Europeans, Africans and Native Americans in the colonial era have also been analyzed elaborately.

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American Cultures in the pre-1492 era

Prior to the era of American colonization, and before the year 1492, there existed a diversity of cultures. According to Eric Foner, the indigenous people, as they are commonly called, identified themselves based on numerous ethnic groupings, residential abodes, economic practices and social norms of the societies (Foner, 231-388).Constituting the many societies were the Amerindians, otherwise termed as Indians living in America.

The evolving Indian societies lived in different regions of the American continent. Among such places they were found were Ohio River Valley, Mississippi, the Great Plains, South West America, Coastal regions, Northern America, South and North East of the continent. And as a result of this regional disparity, the Indians adopted different ways of life, their language, some of their social-cultural norms and activities. Those that lived in the South Western regions and Mississippi valleys were known for their skills in building and construction. They constituted the largest number of inhabitants compared to those that lived in the Great Plains, Pacific Coast, and Eastern region of America. However, history also informs us that Indians shared so many common characteristics that distinguished them from other American societies (Foner, 231-388).

All the native Indians were hunters, gatherers, and practiced fishing and agriculture. Foner Eric adds that nearly all the Indian societies practiced agriculture. The resultant effects of their agricultural activities, cultivating the flora, left a legacy in the world history of Agriculture (Foner, 2007, 231-388).

Besides, they believed in one supernatural being, recognized as the creator. For such a reason, there were spiritual ceremonies dedicated for prayers. Specific people were recognized as leaders who guided society through prayers and spiritual sessions. The leaders were those people believed to be in connection with the most high, and the supernatural powers. Other essentials like gift giving, supervised by the leaders, also formed part of their livelihoods. Notably, the leaders had larger potions of gifts like land; concomitant to the positions they held in the society (Foner, 231-388). When it came to transport, they walked, coverying distances that may only be left for vehicles or trains in the modern world. Animals that could be used for transport purposes never existed.

How about their gender relations? Unlike in other societies, and like in some other ethnic groups, the native Indian women could divorce their husbands, they were accorded that right. Similar to many other societies, both the Indian men and women had their gender roles clearly defined. Men were expected to be in the field hunting and gathering, while women took care of the domestic chores or visiting the gardens.

In summary, the indigenous American-Indians formed a larger and culturally diversified society. They had different ethnic groupings living in different regions of the American continent. The various societies had a few of their cultures distinct, but generally, they shared much in common as Foner discusses extensively in his work titled,” Give Me Liberty! An American History(Foner,388-230).

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Impacts of the British, French and Spanish Colonization on the Native Americans

The American colonization had immense impacts on the indigenous American societies, resulting from a number of factors that characterized the colonial era. Eric Foner has a point to put across on how the colonizers changed the socio-cultural lives of the Native Americans, the ancestors of modern States. He cites a number of factors, such as loss of land, enforced laws and diseases, to be among those things that galvanized the civilization of the American society (Foner, 312).

But Foner is not the only historical writer that talked about colonization of the Native Americans by British, French and Spain. We have also heard from authors like Kincheloe John who posits that the European colonialists actually came with diseases that were never known to the natives, plus some other evil practices which came to transform the indigenous American society in later centuries (Kincheloe, 55-203).

History informs us that Europeans were the most powerful and influential society in the World. This, however, did not imply that other societies like the natives of America were unable to administer themselves independently. Like the Europeans, the natives had a government of their own, they had some freedom.

Among the European colonialist, British portrayed the most negative approaches in the conquest, compared to Spain. French took a rather positive approach, even though they were all influential in their activities. They aimed at enriching their mother countries by utilizing resources from the Native Americans.Foner gives an explanation on how the three took to annex the indigenous American States, through predetermined conquest strategies. He explains that the British colonists were noted to be very negative, out to take the American land completely away from them. Their prime targets were fertile lands and minerals sources. They despised the natives, took control of the land and made them slaves on their own soil.

The British colonial strategy was quite parallel to its colonial partners like French and Spain whose mission was to convert the Native American society into their religious believes and cultural practices Apart from spreading their religious doctrines, the French were also keen on trading and commerce. They had a better relation with the native Indians and were very friendly, just like the Spain, and far from the brutal British colonialist. An aspect of intermarriage was observed between the French, Spain and the native.These were further indications on how human they were, in spite of their colonization motives (Foner, 278-462).

Generally, colonization of the Native Americans led to a number of things. These were inclusive of the emergency of hybrid culture, development of commerce, conversion of the indigenous Indians into Christianity, loss of lands and mineral resources, slavery, diseases and deaths, the list continues. The British colonialists are remembered for having been the worst of the three.

Aspects of life among the European Colonies, Africans and Native Americans

As a result of the European colonization of Native Americans, the natives lost control over their territory. Historical Literatures such as “the native American history and culture” by John Kincheloe and the work of Eric Foner, titled, “Give me liberty! An American History”, provides us with a very detailed account on how the natives lived their lives after colonization (Foner, E., 234-321, & Kincheloe, J.,55-203). This has been contrasted with how Africans related to the Europeans, their colonial masters. Having been rendered powerless in their own land, the natives had no otherwise but to give in to their colonists. They were made slaves and laborers.

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Europeans took control of the economy, and with time, it was a European’s business, not Americans or Africans anymore. The native people incessantly become helpeless.They began seeking for jobs from the enriched Europeans. At times, they were forced to work on the settlers farms to earn a living. Those natives that once boasted of huge tracks of land later became landless and squatters on their very lands. As we dig deep into Foners work, we realize that similar occurrences were observed in Africa where the impacts of British invasions had taken its toll. People were suffering, surving under the mercies of fellow men and women.

To some extent, it has been deduced that the natives of America were better of than the Africans in terms of how they were being treated by the Europeans.They,natives, got the advantage of being whites like the Europeans. Therefore they were not so much subjected to racial segregations or discriminations. The whites also had more experience than the Africans, economically and socially with the Europeans. This is justified by the fact that, even before the Europeans finally annexed the Americans, there were some relationships going on between the two continents, we can talk of trade, the exchange of goods and services with an aim of making a profit. The Native Americans never knew the value of some of the goods they sold to the Europeans. They were easily hoaxed into the trade (Foner, 462-278).

Conversely, Africans got it rough, they never benefited in any way from the economy. The Europeans used them ruthlessly in accumulating wealth. Not similar to the Native Americans, Africans did not qualify for any economical relationship with the Europeans. It is said that they even had no right to own money of their own (Kincheloe, 55-203).The poorest Europeans were far much better than Africans in their economic status.

The cultures of indigenous Americans and Africans went through a rigorous metermophosis.Many of their practices changed. From Kincheloes point of view, the natives abandoned their religious practices, and through the powers of the European influences, they began assimilating the European religious ways of life. Same to Africans whose religious doctrines were termed as primitive and barbaric. Systems of learning and teaching were not left behind either. The Europeans brought with them their educational systems to replace the informal ways of learning that was there in the American and African indigenous societies. Education moved from informal to formal(Kincheloe, 55-203).

The Amerindians no longer exercised their hunting and gathering activities. Their leaders ceased to own powers, as all the powers rested with the colonial masters. Both the Native Americans and Africans were turned into slaves. Enough to conclude that the lives of Americans and Africans were in the hands of the Europeans who determined where they lived, what kind of work they could do, what they ate, how they were ruled, whom and how they worshiped, and all manners of control. According to Foner, the socio-cultural and economic practices of the indigenous Americans, together with their black brothers from Africa disintegrated, with the rise of the European cultural influences across the continent (Foner, 278-462).In conclusion, all the colonial subjects suffered great losses to the colonialist.

References

Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty! An American History. Volume one.2nd Ed.

WW.Norton.2007. 247-677

Kincheloe, John. Native American History and Cultures. Meredith College. 2005.55-203

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