Essay on Outline: Spanish Colonization of the Americas and New World

Submitted By jaredhudgins
Words: 1742
Pages: 7

Chapter 1: New World Beginnings

1. The First Discoveries of America * Ice age accounted for continents human history * 35,000 years ago, glaciers, lower sea level * Land bridge connecting Eurasia (due to low sea level) * Across land bridge: herds of game, nomadic hunters * These nomads or “Native Americans” trekked across North and South America for 250 centuries * Ice aged ended slowly, glaciers melted (10,000 years ago) * No more land bridge * This climactic warming opened ice-free valleys * These “vanguard bands” spread out across the Americas * By the time Europeans reached the Americas, 72 million people lived there * Split into tribes, languages (2000 of them), religions, cultures, etc. * Incas in Peru, Mayans in Central America, Aztecs in Mexico * Advanced agricultural practices (cultivation of maize) * These people built elaborate cities and carried on far-flung commerce * Talented mathematicians * Astronomical observations * Offered human sacrifices (5,000+ people were ritually slaughtered to celebrate the crowing of 1 Aztec chieftain) 2. The Earliest Americans * Agriculture accounted for the size of these civilizations * 5,000 B.C.: hunter-gatherer in highland Mexico developed a wild grass into corn becoming the foundation of their society. * Complex, large-scale Aztec & Incan nation-states * Cultivation of corn spread (transformed nomadic hunting bands into villages) * Corn planting reached American Southwest by 1200 B.C. & modeled Pueblo culture * Pueblos: irrigation systems to water corn * Villages, multi-storied, terraced buildings * North and East of the Pueblos, life was less developed (no dense concentration of population or nation-states) * Mound Builders of the Ohio River Valley & Mississippian culture of lower Midwest did sustain large cultures. * Mississippian Settlement of Cahokia (Illinois) was home to 40,000 people in 1100 AD * …But, by 1300, these two cultures fell into decline * Maize, beans, and squash reached SE Atlantic region about 1000 AD * Rich diet and “three-sister” way of farming produce high population densities * Among them: Creek, Choctaw, and Cherokee * Iroquois in NE (leader: Hiawatha) 16th century * Iroquois confederation (confederacy): developed political & organizations skills * Robust military alliance * Most part: Native Americans lived in small, scattered settlements * Women: tended crops * Men: hunted, fished, gathered fuel, cleared fields for planting * Women had a lot of authority * Matrilineal cultures * Power & possessions passes down the female side of the family tree * Native Americans didn’t have desire nor the means to manipulate nature * Revered physical world, endowed nature with spiritual properties, but they ignited forest fires for hunting * Native Americans were thinly spread out * By 1492, there were 4 millions of them 3. Indirect Discoveries of the New World * Europeans were unaware of the Americas * Norse seafarers from Scandinavia went to NE North America at 100 AD (Newfoundland) * No strong nation-states * Names area “Vinland” * Abandoned and forgotten * Europeans sought a bigger world for either conquest or trade * Drive towards Asia, penetration of Africa * “New-World” * Thousands of Europeans, Christian crusaders & warriors tried to discover America from 11-14 centuries to wrest the Holy Land from Muslim Control * They liked Asia (silk, drugs, perfumes, draperies, spices, sugar) * Spice Islands (Indonesia), (Indochina), China, India * Expensive goods * Journeys across Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf & Red Sea in caravans