The Destruction of the Natives Notes

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The Destruction of the Natives Notes
Why America is named “America” and not “Columbia”?

  • Amerigo Vespucci

  • Italian explorer working for the Portuguese crown.

  • Traveled along the eastern coast of South America.

  • He returned to Europe and claimed that the newly discovered land was not part of ASIA, but a “New World”- wrote a very successful book on it

  • In 1507, a German map-maker named the new continent ‘America’ after him.

Interesting Note

  • Columbus died never knowing that he discovered the New World.

  • He died still believing it was the Indies.


Hernando Cortes

  • Arrived in Mexico in 1519.

  • Cortes and his men reached the Tenochtitlan.

  • The Aztec emperor, Montezuma II, was convinced at first that Cortes was a god.

  • He agreed to give the Spanish explorer a share of the empire’s existing gold supply.

Cortes forced the Aztecs to mine more gold and silver.

  • In the spring of 1520, the Aztecs rebelled against the Spanish intruders and drove out Cortes’s forces.

  • The Spaniards struck back and destroyed the Aztecs in 1521.

Cortez defeats the Aztecs

  • The Spanish had the advantage of superior weaponry.

  • Aztec arrows were no match for the Spaniards’ muskets and cannons.

  • Cortes was also able to recruit help from various native tribes.


  • Native Aztec woman who helped Cortez convince other tribes to fight against Montezuma.

  • Many tribes hated their harsh practices of human sacrifices.


  • Disease claimed the lives of most Aztecs.

  • Spaniards brought new germs and diseases to the Natives.

  • Measles

  • Mumps

  • Smallpox

  • typhus

  • Over the next 200 years disease would claim over 1/3 of Native American lives.

A New Society Emerges

  • Peninsulares – Spaniards born in Spain who came to America as settlers or explorers.

  • Peninsulares were mostly men, therefore many married native women.

  • A new race was created called Mestizo – mixed Spanish and Native American.

Encomienda System

  • Spaniards forced Native Americans in a labor system.

  • Natives farmed, ranched, or mined for Spanish landlords.

  • The landlords promised Spanish government they would act fairly and respectfully toward the workers.

  • However, many abused the natives and worked many laborers to death, especially inside the mines.

Catholic Priests

  • Accompanied explorers to the Americas.

  • While the explorers searched for gold, the priests looked for Christian converts.

  • In 1609-1610, the “Santa Fe” was built.

  • In the next two decades, Christian missions would expand across the southwestern U.S.

Opposition to Spanish Rule

  • Spanish priests worked to spread Christianity in the Americas.

  • They also pushed for a better treatment of Native Americans.

  • Priests spoke out against the cruelty towards the natives.

  • They criticized the encomienda system.

De la Casas

  • “There is nothing more detestable or cruel than the tyranny which the Spaniards use toward the Indians for getting of riches.”

  • Las Casa suggested the use of African labor.

  • “The labor of one is more valuable than that of four Indians.”

  • The Spaniards soon began to import Africa slaves to meet their growing labor needs.

Spaniards forced their culture

  • The natives were forced to convert to Christianity.

  • Spanish priests and soldiers often burned their sacred objects and prohibited many native rituals.

  • They were abused physically.

  • Natives who practiced their own religion were beaten.

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