There were several traits which made the Native American’s vulnerable to conquest by European adventurers. First, the people themselves were inadequately endowed to deal with the European invaders. Their populations were quickly diminishing as a result of famine, forced labor, epidemics involving contact with European diseases and inter-tribal wars.
The natives were unaccustomed to the economic, political and military aspects associated with the Europeans. They lacked the organization and political unity necessary to resist the conquering Armies. The indigenous tribes were habitually in conflict with one and other, as they conducted their daily lives, competing with each other for land and food. As an example, over the years, the Aztecs accumulated many enemies, especially within their own tribe. This conflict ensued from rivalry, competition for territorial rights, acquisition of wealth and the practice of using their captive enemies as religious sacrifices. Cortés exploited this trait by forming alliances with the opposing tribes. In contrast to the Aztecs lack of unity, the Spanish explorers were a highly unified society.
The Native Americans acquired the indispensable skills of working with copper, but failed to develop proficiency needed towards smelting iron, thus they lacked sufficient technology to wage war upon the invaders. When the Europeans arrived in the New World they were welcomed by the Native American’s. The Indians regard their visitors as wonderful warriors with their military garb, well-groomed beards, and their massive ships, but more so for the technology they brought with them. The native population was astonished by this technology, such as the steel knives and swords, the arquebus which is a sort of muzzle loader, the cannon, copper and brass kettles, mirrors, hawk bells and earrings which were used as trading goods, along with other items which were unusual to their way of life. This was rightfully so since the natives lacked the ability to create these amazing inventions used by the Europeans. Unfortunately, the European visitors used their weapons of war towards inflicting great amounts of damage to the natives.
It did not take long before serious problems began to develop. With the arrival of the Europeans in the new world, there were 7 million Native Americans in North America. Most dwelled in hunter-gather or agricultural types of communities. The largest dilemma encountered by the Native American’s was their lack of immunity to European diseases. This lack of immunity within these communities towards the European diseases took their toll among the Indian tribes. Smallpox was a common threat frequently contracted by the Indians from the European people.
The Native Americans soon began to loath the Europeans and their unfamiliar beliefs. They often surveyed the white man as despicable and stingy with their wealth. This was a concept that the Indians had not previously encountered. In their social order things were freely shared. The explorers were deemed to be insatiable in their aspiration for furs and hides. They especially abhorred the European’s intolerance for their native religious beliefs, eating habits, sexual and marital arrangements and other aspects of their customs.
The Native Americans were used to being in tune with the spirit of nature, but to the Europeans, nature was an obstacle in their path. They pondered the gifts of nature as an endless distribute of resources such as the forest having an abundance of timber, a beaver colony possessing unlimited pelts and the buffalo with many robes. To the explorers even the Native American’s were deemed a resource ripe for religious conversion or as a means of free labor.
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