Sei sulla pagina 1di 28

Uncivilized American Indians and the White Man’s Burden

The keyboard started making a quirky, almost irksome clicking noise as my

fingers flew across, gently caressing one letter after another. Perhaps it was the

deafening silence of the early hours cleverly sneaking into the back of my mind or

perhaps it just has always been there but I merely never paid attention to it. I do,

however, remember passively flipping through the calendar a few hours ago. It’s

October 12th today. A day marked by jubilant celebrations all across the vast continents

of America but Canada in commemoration of Christopher Columbus making landfall on

the shores of the Americas 527 years ago onboard the Santa Maria, Pinta, and Niña.

Specifically, on an island in the West Indies, the natives called Guanahani which he

renamed San Salvador (Carnes and Garraty, 2016).

Interestingly, there seems to be evident disproportion in the conversations about

the negative aspects of this event in the mainstream media. Of course, Columbus’

voyage slammed open the floodgates to the European exploration and colonization of

the New World and the subsequent Columbian exchange which shifted the political,

social and economic dynamics of both the Old World and the New World for the better

or worse (Nunn, Qian, 2010). In spite of that, it also caused a domino of adverse and

pernicious effects particularly on the native population in the American continents.

Christopher Columbus wrote about the natives of the West Indies in his Captain’s Log:

Thursday, 11 October: Weapons they have none, nor are

acquainted with them, for I showed them swords which they grasped

by the blades, and cut themselves through ignorance. They have no


iron, their javelins being without it, and nothing more than

sticks, though some have fish-bones or other things at the ends. [...]

It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good

servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become

Christians, as they appear to have no religion. (Halsall, 1996)

Columbus is attributed to such diabolical cruelty during his 7-year tyrannical rule on the

West Indies’ Hispaniola Island as governor and viceroy of the Indies. He imposed iron

discipline on the island. Punishments included cutting off people's ears and noses,

parading women naked through the streets and selling them into slavery (Tremlett,

2006). Columbus captured thousands of peaceful Taino “Indians” from the island and

sent them to Spain to be sold. Many died en route. Those left behind were forced to

search for gold in mines and work on plantations so that Columbus would have some

treasures to bring home. Those who didn’t collect enough gold had their hands chopped

off if not killed. Within 60 years after Columbus landed, only a few hundred of what may

have been 250,000 Taino were left on their island (“Why Columbus Day Courts

Controversy”, 2019). Naturally, the natives and colonists tried to stage a revolt and

overthrow Columbus’ administration, but their efforts were in vain as they were thwarted

and executed at the gallows. In a barbaric attempt to deter future rebellions, Columbus

later ordered their dismembered bodies to be paraded through the streets. His rule was

so infernal that the horrified monarchs of Spain had him arrested, chained and brought

back to Spain in August 1500 (Klein, 2018). Unfortunately, this did not put an end to the

struggles of the Native Americans. If anything, it was only the beginning. As the news of

Columbus’ encounter spread, more Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World to
conquer and colonize the lands. With that came systemic genocides against Native

Americans by the European colonizers.

What’s more intriguing is the justification given by these Spanish conquistadors

to permit their unwarranted invasion and colonization of the New World; mission

civilisatrice or the civilizing mission. It was a basis for European intervention or

colonization of non-European nations to purportedly bring their ideal and proper

civilization to indigenous people whom they considered uncivilized barbarians.

Outwardly, Europeans became the self-professed carriers of light to the colonies,

rejecting the latter’s inherent traditions, religions, and cultures as primitive. As far as

they were concerned, it was their humanitarian duty to modernize these ‘barbarians’

around the world by hook or crook, even by force.

In this paper, I will be first arguing that the justification given by European powers

to subdue the native population was above all inaccurate, dishonest and deceptive. No,

the American Indians were not uncivilized. If anything, they were not only aptly civilized

but I would even go as far as arguing that they were up to par vis-à-vis the European

civilizations at that time. This can be proven accordingly by putting both Native

American civilizations and European civilization to comparison to show how

philosophically, socially and architecturally advanced the Native societies actually were.

Before we go any further, I’d like to first define what a civilization is. The Cambridge

Dictionary defines civilization as being:

“A highly developed culture, including its social organization, government, laws,

and arts, or the culture of a social group or country at a particular time”


Generally, civilization is characterized by urban development, social stratification

imposed by a cultural elite, symbolic systems of communication (for example, writing

systems), and a perceived separation from and domination over the natural

environment (Llobera & Josep, 2003).

Coming back to the Europeans’ civilizing mission, it’s important to understand

where this idea of cultural supremacy stems from and how it’s not an accurate

representation of their intention and the condition of the indigenous people. To many

European nations, Christianity represented western civilization and the basis for Anglo-

Saxon morality. For them, the right way to civilize the indigenous population was thus to

convert them to Christianity. Unsurprisingly, the entire idea of a civilizing mission was

born through and to serve the promulgation of the Christian faith specifically the

Catholic denomination. During the medieval Crusades, Pope Innocent IV decreed that

Europeans had a divine mandate to protect the spiritual well-being of all people,

including non-believing infidels. Thus, the Christian conquerors claimed the "right of

conquest". This professedly gave them a natural, God-given right to conquer and then

assume sovereignty over non-Christian people throughout the world. This philosophy

was later modified by Pope Alexander IV in response to Columbus's landfall in the

Americas, namely the “Doctrine of Discovery”. This doctrine claimed that any Christian

European discovery of territory held by non-believers automatically gave Christians the

title to the land and should they reject this principle, the religion or the dominion of the

monarch, then Spain has just cause to wage war against them (Olson-Raymer, n.d.).

This hypocrisy was masqueraded behind the notion of ‘civilizing’ the Indigenous people

when in truth all they were interested in was for more wealth, land and control.
Due to there being a large number of American Indian states or civilizations in

the New World, I will be narrowing the scope of this paper to only 3 civilizations directly

conquered by the Spanish: The Inca in South America and the Maya and Aztec in

Mesoamerica. We will be taking a closer look at each civilization to identify how

advanced they were in terms of urban development, social stratification, job

specification, governance, technology, systems of communication including languages,

arts, and religion as proposed earlier as the characteristics of a civilization.


Inca

The Inca civilization flourished in the region of what is now Peru between the

years 1438 and 1533, with the Inca Empire extending across the entirety of western

South America. The empire was the largest empire the Americas had ever seen and the

largest in the world at that time.

The hierarchical social stratification of the Inca was made up of four social

classes. At the top of the stratum was the Sapa Inca, the emperor whom they

considered the son the Sun. Below was Inkap Rantin, the Sapa Inca’s confidant and

assistants mostly consisting of his close relatives. The third social class was the Willaq

Umu consisting of those who attained distinction through their services such as priests

and chiefs. At the bottom of the social structure was the Ayllu or the commoners. The

commoners worked the land and took care of the cattle for food and clothing. Many

worked in the mines or as weavers. Public service was required of everyone as a mit’a

or the tax contribution. In exchange, the Inca or the rulers divided and provided them

food throughout the year, supplied agricultural products not produced in the area, gave

education and health care.

In the eyes of the Inca, male and female roles were considered equal. The

indigenous culture saw the two genders as complementary parts of a whole. Within the

domestic sphere, women were known as weavers. Women's everyday tasks included:

spinning, watching the children, weaving cloth, cooking, brewing chichi, preparing fields

for cultivation, planting seeds, bearing children, harvesting, weeding, hoeing, herding,

and carrying water. Men, on the other hand, weeded, ploughed, participated in combat,
helped in the harvest, carried firewood, built houses, herded llama and alpaca, and

spun and wove when necessary. Furthermore, women were allowed to own land and

herds because inheritance was passed down from both the mother's and father's side of

the family. Kinship within the Inca society followed a parallel line of descent. In other

words, women ascended from women and men ascended from men. Due to the parallel

descent, women had access to land and other necessities through her mother, and

communities flourished because of the environmental social ties among women

(Silverblatt, 1987).

The capital of the empire was located in Cusco, a city guarded by a fortress

called Sacsahuaman. Intrinsically, the entire Inca Empire flourished because of its

complex, unrivalled road system across the continent. The Inca road system or also

known as the Qhapaq Nan, spanned 40,000 kilometres from modern-day Colombia to

Chile and Argentina, officially centred in Cusco where the road goes 4 ways from. The

network consisted of several formal roads that were systemically planned, engineered,

constructed, marked and maintained (‘History of the Inca realm’, 1999). The roads were

also paved where necessary and contained stairways designed to gain elevation in the

mountains, bridges and accessory constructions such as retaining walls, and water

drainage systems which took into account the natural environment and the local climate.

For instance, on steep terrain, they built steps to dissipate the water's energy and

counter erosion and at high altitudes, they paved the way with local stone to protect the

surface from ice and snowmelt (O’Brien, 2015). For all matters concerned, the Inca road

system was just as much of a marvel as the road network built during the Roman

Empire, In fact, many of these roads and rest stations (tambos) survived to date and are
now used as tourist attractions. Incas used the road system for a variety of reasons,

from transportation for people who were travelling through the Empire to military and

religious purposes (Cartwright, 2014). The road system allowed for a fast movement of

persons from one part of the Empire to the other: both armies and workers used the

roads to move and the tambos to rest and be fed. It also allowed for the fast movement

of information and valuable small goods which travelled through the network (O’Brien,

2015).

Another unique trait of the Inca is that all their architecture did not make use of

wheeled transport. Furthermore, their architecture primarily was made of carved stone

blocks ranging from grey granites to Yucay limestone that fit together so well that a knife

could not be fitted through the stonework (Cartwright, 2014). Stonemasons shaped

large granite blocks by pounding rocks on them, they were able to flatten and create

smooth edges and corners so that each piece interlocked with the next one to create a

wall. The skill to shape a polygonal block and fit it with such precision against another is

remarkable considering that they did not use mortar or cement. The most expert Inca

masons shaped blocks of stones with stone axes, obsidian pebbles and smoothed the

edges with sand (‘Machu Picchu Architecture’, n.d.). Meanwhile, the Inca also built

complex irrigation systems particularly around the city of Cusco including fountains and

culverts for springs. In order to maintain an effective agricultural system in the harsh

surrounding of the Andean mountains, the Inca channelled rivers to agricultural sites to

create irrigation systems for crops. These aqueducts comprised solely of stones and still

function today. They also created farming terraces on the hills to make use of the land

(History.com editors, 2015).


Even though the Inca had no written language, a dialect of Quechua was widely

spoken and regarded as its official language ("Quechua, the Language of the Incas",

2013). Historical and accounting records were kept using knotted cords known as. The

Inca were polytheists, worshipping a pantheon of gods ranging from Inti, a creator god

named Viracocha and Apu Illapu, the thunder god. Monumental shrines were built

throughout the kingdom, especially the Coricancha, a Sun Temple in Cusco (Jarus,

2018). The Spanish chronicler Bernabé Cobo wrote, “This temple was called

Coricancha, which means ‘house of gold,’ because of the incomparable wealth of this

metal which was embedded in the temple’s chapels and wall, its ceilings and altars”

(Bauer, 2004), (Cartwright, 2014). The most famous surviving monument of the Inca is

the Macchu Picchu citadel.


By Martin St-Amant (S23678) - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8450312
Aztec

The Aztec Empire a hegemonic three-way alliance between the Nahua altepetl or

self-governing city-states of Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, and Tlacopan that flourished

between the years 1345-1521 and at its greatest extent covered most of northern

Mesoamerica. Tenochtitlan initially formed alliances with the neighbouring states of

Texcoco and Tlacopan under the rule of Itzcóat to fight a common enemy state.

However, Tenochtitlan emerged dominant over the other two states as it had a stronger

military for conquest. Tenochtitlan was the centre point of the Aztec empire which was

depended upon by 400 to 500 small states. The city was inhabited by 140,000 people

scattered across a 5 square mile area thus making it one of the most populated cities in

the world at that time (History.com editors, 2019), (The Editors of Encyclopaedia

Britannica, 2018).

The Aztec spoke a language called Nahuatl which is still prevalent in today’s

Mexico. They had a writing system in the form of pictographic and ideographic proto-

writing. There was also a glyph system which was used as a rebus to represent a

different word with the same sound or similar pronunciation. For example, the glyph for

Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, was represented by combining two pictograms: stone

(te-tl) and cactus (nochtli) (Spinden, 1928). Each altepetl or city state was ruled by a

tlatoani, the supreme leader and the cihuacoatl, the supreme administrator.

Tenochtitlan’s tlatoani also served as the Huey Tlatoani or the emperor of the entire

Aztec empire. The tlatoani owned all the land in his city-state, received tributes from his

dominion, oversaw the altepetl’s markets and temples, spearheaded its military, and

settled judicial issues. The tlatoani must also be from the noble class and of royal
lineage and served for life once installed. The cihuacoatl, on the other hand, was the

second in command, serving as the supreme judge for the court system, appointed all

lower court judges, and handled the financial affairs of the altepetl. The Huey Tlatoani is

elected by a council consisting of four nobles who were related to the previous ruler.

The Aztecs followed a strict social stratification made up of the local rulers or the

teteuhctin at the top, followed by pipiltin or the nobles consisting of government and

military leaders, high-level priests, and lords (tecuhtli) then the macehualtin or

commoners and lastly serfs or slaves. Priests had their own internal class system and

were expected to be celibate and to refrain from alcohol. Failure to do so would result in

serious punishment or death. The tecuhtli included landowners, judges and military

commanders. Nobles were entitled to receive tribute from commoners in the form of

goods, services, and labour. Noble status was passed on through male and female

lineages, and only nobles were permitted to display their wealth by wearing decorated

capes and jewellery. The commoner class consisted of farmers, artisans, merchants,

and low-level priests. Commoners generally resided in neighbourhood wards, which

were led by a single nobleman and a council of commoner elders. The Aztecs

additionally had landless serfs and slaves. Serfs worked land that was owned by nobles

and did not live in the calpulli. Individuals became slaves or tlacotin as a form of

punishment for certain crimes or for failure to pay tribute. Prisoners of war who were not

used as human sacrifices became slaves. An individual could also voluntarily sell

himself or his children into slavery to pay back a debt with the latter requiring the court’s

permission. Slaves had the right to marry, to have children, to substitute another

individual in their place, and to buy their freedom. Slave-owners were responsible for
housing and feeding their slaves, and slaves generally could not be resold. They were

usually freed when their owners died, and could also gain their freedom by marrying

their owner. Aztecs were not born slaves and could not inherit this status from their

parents. Women had limited leadership roles within the Aztec empire. There is evidence

that they had administrative roles in the calpulli and markets and worked as midwives

and priestesses. However, the top administrative positions were limited to men, and

women were not permitted to serve as warriors (Tarlton Law Library at the University of

Texas in Austin, 2018).

Aztec religion was syncretistic, absorbing elements from many other

Mesoamerican religions especially the Mexica religion. Intrinsically, it shared many of

the cosmological beliefs of earlier civilizations, notably the Maya, such as that the

present Earth was the last in a series of creations and that it occupied a position

between systems of 13 heavens and 9 underworlds. The polytheistic religion consisted

of a pantheon of deities; Huitzilopochtli, the god of war; Tonatiuh, the god of the sun;

Tlaloc, the god of rain; and Quetzalcóatl, the Feathered Serpent. Human sacrifices were

common with tributes being the Aztec enemies, foreigners, and tributes. Closely

intertwined with Aztec religion was the calendar, on which the elaborate round of rituals

and ceremonies that occupied the priests was based. The Aztec calendar was the one

common to much of Mesoamerica, and it comprised a solar year of 365 days, the

xiuhpōhualli, and a sacred year of 260 days, the tōnalpōhualli; the two yearly cycles

running in parallel produced a larger cycle of 52 years (The Editors of Encyclopaedia

Britannica, 2018).
All Aztec children attended school, though their curricula varied by gender and

social class. Each calpulli had a school for commoner children known as a telpochcalli.

The purpose of the telpochcalli was to train young men to be warriors, and boys

generally began their training at the age of 15. Noble children and exceptionally gifted

commoner children attended the calmecac schools, where they received training to

become priests and government officials. While military training was provided, the

calmecac offered more academic opportunities than the telpochcalli. Children typically

began attending the calmecac between the ages of 6 and 13 (Tarlton Law Library at the

University of Texas in Austin, 2018).

The Aztec’s unprecedented and pioneer agricultural system featuring intensive

cultivation of all free land, complex irrigation lines, and swampland reclamation was the

reason for their success as an empire. The high productivity gained from these methods

made for a rich and populous state. Architecture wise, The Aztecs were master builders

and constructed many different types of structures, such as pyramids, ball courts,

plazas, temples, and homes. The Aztec architecture followed similar principles to other

earlier Mesoamerican civilizations, including, the use of a grid system in city-building

and the construction of large temples in the shape of a pyramid. For instance, the

pyramid was a central component of Aztec construction and the main feature of the city-

state. In the capital city of Tenochtitlan, Templo Mayor was the name of the main temple.

Structurally, the Templo Mayor was a pyramid with four different levels or terraces and

two sets of staircases that reached to the top platform. The temple reached as high as

60 meters and was topped with a large platform. This top platform contained two

shrines to two different Aztec gods, Huitzilopochtli, and Tlaloc that played a significant
role in the religion of the Aztec. Spanish records report that the pyramid was painted in

bright colors and contained artistic reliefs of serpents and Aztec warriors (Glancey,

2015). The Templo Mayor highlights several key features of the Aztec architecture. First,

they did not replace large structures such as temples, rather they simply built over top of

them and made them bigger and more elaborate. This has been witnessed in several

Aztec archaeological sites but is likely best seen in the ruins found of the Templo Mayor.

Second, the Aztecs were master craftsmen and were easily able to work with stone top

build large and elaborate temples. Third, Aztec culture featured heavily in their

architecture, including their religious beliefs, gods, and astronomy (History Crunch

Writers, 2018).

Tenochtitlan itself has been renowned among the Spanish conquistadors for its

beauty, splendour and pristine artwork. The city's water management was also

impressive with large canals crisscrossing the city which was itself surrounded by

chinampas, which were raised and flooded fields, intended to boost the agricultural

capacity of the Aztecs. On top of this, the city had anti-flood dykes, artificial reservoirs

for freshwater and well-kept flower gardens (Cartwright, 2014).


Maya

The Maya civilization developed in an area that encompasses south-eastern

Mexico, all of Guatemala and Belize, and the western portions of Honduras and El

Salvador. This region consists of the northern lowlands encompassing the Yucatán

Peninsula, and the highlands of the Sierra Madre, running from the Mexican state of

Chiapas, across southern Guatemala and onwards into El Salvador, and the southern

lowlands of the Pacific littoral plain. The Maya Empire per se was confined within the

tropical lowlands of what is now Guatemala for over 2000 years. Despite only reaching

its peak power and influence in Mesoamerica around the 6th century, the first Maya

cities actually developed much earlier around 750 BC. By 500 BC these cities

possessed monumental architecture, including large temples with elaborate stucco

facades (Foster, 2002). However, unlike the Aztecs in Mexico or the Inca in Peru, the

Maya were never a unified empire ruled by a single ruler from a single place. Rather,

they were a series of smaller city-states who ruled the immediate vicinity but had little to

do with other cities if they were far enough away. These city-states traded with and

warred upon one another frequently, so cultural exchange, including architecture, was

common (Minster, 2019). The Maya pioneered in agriculture, pottery, hieroglyph writing,

calendar-making and mathematics and left behind an astonishing amount of

unparalleled architecture and symbolic artwork. Strangely, most of the great stone cities

of the Maya were abandoned by the year 900 A.D. for reasons yet to be identified.

However, remnants of the empire in the form of smaller states survived until the

Columbian period of European colonization (Sharer & Traxler, 2006).


The Classic Period which began around 250 A.D. was the golden age of the

Maya Empire. Classic Maya civilization grew to over 40 cities, including Tikal, Uaxactún,

Copán, Bonampak, Dos Pilas, Calakmul, Palenque, and Río Bec; each city being

populated by 5,000 to 50,000 people. Modern excavations of Maya sites have

unearthed plazas, palaces, temples, and pyramids. As the Maya cities were not planned

like the Aztec and Inca, often times their cities would haphazardly expand outwards and

the city centre would be occupied by ceremonial and administrative complexes that

were surrounded by an irregular sprawl of residential districts. Different parts of a city

would then be linked by causeways (History.com editors, 2019). The principal

architecture of the city consisted of palaces, pyramid- temples, ceremonial ball courts,

and structures aligned for astronomical observation. The palaces consisted of a

platform supporting a multi-room range structure. They were commonly built upon

platforms of varying height. Palaces naturally were elite residential compounds,

generally extended horizontally as opposed to the towering Maya pyramids and often

had restricted access (Foster, 2002). Pyramids wise, the Maya built two kinds of

structure. Albeit being similar in many ways (they both had the familiar pyramid shape,

steep steps up the side that would allow someone to climb to the top and built for

religious purposes and for the gods). However, they had their differences as well. The

first type of pyramid had a temple on the top and was meant to be climbed by the

priests to make sacrifices to the gods including human sacrifices. The stairs going up

the sides of these pyramids were steep, but not too steep for the priests to climb. The

most important religious ceremonies were held at the top of these pyramids on top of it

being used as tombs for deceased rulers, their partners, sacrificial victims, and precious
goods. The second type of pyramid was a sacred pyramid built to a god. These

pyramids were not to be climbed or touched by humans. There were still steps going up

the sides of these pyramids, but they were often too steep to climb without a lot of effort.

These pyramids were sometimes built with secret doors, tunnels, and traps. The most

famous of these pyramids is the El Castillo at Chichen Itza. This pyramid was built as a

temple to the god Kukulcan with a total height of just less than 100 feet. Each side of El

Castillo has 91 steps. When you add up the steps on all four sides and then add in the

top platform as a step, you get 365 steps, one for each day of the year (Nelson, 2019).

El Castillo pyramid by @diegograndi/jstock.com


Religion played a very crucial part in the lives of the Maya with a huge range of

nature-based gods being worshipped across the empire, including the gods of the sun,

the moon, rain, and corn. As far as the social stratification goes in the Classic Period,

the kings, or “Kuhul Ajaw” were at the top of the hierarchy. These monarchs often

claimed to be related to gods and followed a patrilineal line of succession. The kings’

duties were to serve as mediators between the gods and people on earth and to

perform a vast set of religious ceremonies and rituals. A prospective king was also

expected to be a successful war leader. Maya politics were dominated by a closed

system of patronage, although the exact political make-up of a kingdom varied from city-

state to city-state (History.com editors, 2019). However, by the Late Classic period, the

aristocracy had greatly increased, resulting in the corresponding reduction in the

exclusive power of the divine king (Foster, 2002).

Supported by their religious rituals, the Maya made significant advances in

mathematics and astronomy, including the use of the zero and the development of

complex calendar systems which recently in 2012 was a hot topic of conversation that

doomsday is imminent on the 21st of December 2012 in Gregorian Calendar as the

Maya in their Long Count calendar had supposedly predicted in when in truth the

calendar merely ended on that day. Essentially, the Maya used three different calendars.

The first was the sacred calendar, or Tzolk'in, which lasted 260 days and then started

over again, just as our 365-day calendar refreshes once it hits Dec. 31. This calendar

was important for scheduling religious ceremonies. The second calendar was the Haab',

or secular calendar, which lasted 365 days but did not account for the extra quarter-day

it takes the Earth to revolve around the sun. The final calendar was the Long Count
Calendar. Since Calendar Round dates repeat every 18,980 days, approximately 52

solar years, the cycle repeats roughly once each lifetime, so a more refined method of

dating was needed if history was to be recorded accurately or to specify dates over

periods longer than 52 years. Hence, the Mayans used this Long Count Calendar for

that purpose (Pappas, 2012).

They had a hieroglyphic writing system and often made carvings and inscriptions

on stones and their monuments. The Maya also made paper from tree bark and

compiled them into books known as codices (History.com editors, 2019). On top of this,

the Maya civilization developed highly sophisticated art forms using perishable and non-

perishable materials; from wood, jade, obsidian, ceramics, sculpted stone monuments,

and stucco to finely painted murals.


Conclusion

When a direct comparison is made between the European societies and the

native Mesoamerican societies, we can see that there was not much difference between

them. Although the religious beliefs and ideologies were vastly different, both societies

had a very strict social stratification and systemically oppressed a portion of its

population in the name of maintaining order. They commonly had a monarchical system

in place with the monarch having substantial control in state affairs. The elite enjoyed

privileges that were denied to the commoners and both societies often excluded women

from leadership positions. Sure, the human sacrifice may have been off-putting to the

Europeans; however, they too, have had a fair share of unethical cultural subscriptions.

Hence, it was beyond hypocritical of the Europeans to assume superiority and domain

over the natives whom they saw as backward, ignorant, and culturally and spiritually

bankrupt and desperately in need of guidance from the white man when cities larger

than Seville have stood in Mesoamerica long before the white men even learned that

the world is bigger than just Europe and Asia. For instance, Teotihuacan was one of the

biggest cities in the world through the first half of the first Common Era millennium. The

cityscape was dominated by the Pyramid of the Sun and on the east side by the Avenue

of the Dead. It is one of the biggest structures in the Western Hemisphere and was

constructed with 765,000 cubic meters of material, including hewed tezontle, a red

coarse volcanic rock of the region (Dixon, 2019).


The Pyramid of the Sun, in Teotihuacán (Mexico).© liquidlibrary/Jupiterimages

By eu - tirada por mim, Public Domain,


https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2244741
In fact, there is this quote I’ve seen online from an anonymous Native American that

goes:

When your people came to our land, it was not with open arms,

but with Bibles and guns and disease. You took our land. You

killed us with your guns and disease, and then had the

arrogance to call us godless savages.

In conclusion, I would like to reaffirm my position that the American Indians were

far from uncivilized. Not only was the Europeans’ denigration of the natives’ intellectual

and social capacity insulting, but it also was a perfect representation of their superiority

complex stemming solely from their insatiable greed and lust for wealth, power and

glory of spreading their religion. Their invasion into the Americas brought hell on Earth

to the Native population as they succumbed to one Old World disease after another that

their population dwindled steeply. Native Americans lost their land, their families and

friends, their wealth, their farms, their sacred temples, and their dignity to make way for

the white man to assert his dominance in a foreign land. Repulsive! So no, the question

should not be if I think the American Indians were uncivilized, it should be if I believe

that the white Europeans were morally depraved. Lastly, I firmly believe Spain still owes

the natives a proper apology for their actions and suitable compensation for the

despicable horror their ancestors had to endure 500 years ago.


References

Boyden, S. V. (2004). The biology of civilisation: understanding human culture as a

force in nature. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.

Cartwright, M. (2014, February 26). Aztec Civilization. Retrieved from

https://www.ancient.eu/Aztec_Civilization/.

Cartwright, M. (2019, November 9). Inca Architecture. Retrieved from

https://www.ancient.eu/Inca_Architecture/.

Cartwright, M. (2019, November 9). The Inca Road System. Retrieved from

https://www.ancient.eu/article/757/the-inca-road-system/.

Cartwright, M. (2019, October 14). Inca Architecture. Retrieved from

https://www.ancient.eu/Inca_Architecture/.

Cartwright, M. (2019, October 15). Inca Civilization. Retrieved from

https://www.ancient.eu/Inca_Civilization/.

CIVILIZATION: meaning in the Cambridge English Dictionary. (n.d.). Retrieved October

14, 2019, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/civilization.

Discover Peru. (n.d.). Machu Picchu Architecture. Retrieved November 11, 2019, from

http://www.discover-peru.org/machu-picchu-architecture/.

Foster, L. V. (2002). Handbook to life in the ancient Maya world. New York: Oxford

University Press.
Glancey, J. (2015, February 27). Culture - The Templo Mayor: A place for human

sacrifices. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150227-a-place-

for-human-sacrifices.

Halsall, P. (1996, January 26). Medieval Sourcebook: Christopher Columbus: Extracts

from Journal. Retrieved from

https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/source/columbus1.asp.

History Crunch Writers. (2018, August 15). Aztec Architecture. Retrieved from

https://www.historycrunch.com/aztec-architecture.html#/.

History of the Inca realm. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. 1999.

p. 60. ISBN 0-521-63759-7.

History.com Editors. (2009, November 9). Christopher Columbus. Retrieved from

https://www.history.com/topics/exploration/christopher-columbus.

History.com Editors. (2009, October 27). Aztecs. Retrieved from

https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-americas/aztecs.

History.com Editors. (2009, October 29). Maya. Retrieved from

https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-americas/maya.

History.com Editors. (2015, March 11). Inca. Retrieved from

https://www.history.com/topics/south-america/inca.

History.com Editors. (2019, October 7). Why Columbus Day Courts Controversy.

Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/columbus-day-controversy.


Inca Society. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2019, from http://www.discover-

peru.org/inca-society/.

Irene., Silverblatt (1987). Moon, sun, and witches : gender ideologies and class in Inca

and colonial Peru. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-07726-

6. OCLC 14165734.

Jurus, O. (2018, November 8). The Inca Empire. Retrieved from

https://www.livescience.com/41346-the-incas-history-of-andean-empire.html.

Khomina, A. (2016, October 12). Columbus Lands in America: On This Day, 1492.

Retrieved from https://www.gilderlehrman.org/blog/columbus-lands-america-day-

1492.

Klein, C. (2012, October 5). 10 Things You May Not Know About Christopher Columbus.

Retrieved from https://www.history.com/news/10-things-you-may-not-know-

about-christopher-columbus.

Llobera, J. R. (2007). An invitation to anthropology: the structure, evolution and cultural

identity of human societies. New York: Berghahn.

Mark C. Carnes, John A. Garraty, The American Nation, Volume I: A History of the

United States,15th ed, Pearson, 2016s

Maya civilization. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2019, from

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_civilization.

Minster, C. (2019, January 21). What Was Ancient Mayan Architecture Like? Retrieved

from: https://www.thoughtco.com/ancient-maya-architecture-2136167.
National Geographic Society (2019, February 28). Civilizations. Retrieved from

https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/civilizations/.

Nelson, Ken. (2019). Maya Civilization for Kids: Pyramids and Architecture. Ducksters.

Retrieved from

https://www.ducksters.com/history/maya/pyramids_and_architecture.php

Nunn, N., & Qian, N. (2010). The Columbian Exchange: A History of Disease, Food,

and Ideas. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(2), 163–188. doi:

10.1257/jep.24.2.163

O'Brien, J. (2015, July 2). Inca Road: The ancient highway that created an empire.

Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33291373.

Olson-Raymer, G. (n.d.). Whose Manifest Destiny? The Federal Government and the

American Indians. Retrieved October 14, 2019, from

http://gorhistory.com/hist110/unit3/indians.html.

Pappas, S. (2012, December 19). The Real Deal: How the Mayan Calendar Works.

Retrieved from https://www.livescience.com/25662-how-mayan-calendar-

works.html.

Quechua, the Language of the Incas". 11 November 2013.

Schwartz, Glenn M.; Nichols, John J. (2010). After Collapse: The Regeneration of

Complex Societies. University of Arizona Press. ISBN 978-0-8165-2936-0.

Sharer, R. J., & Traxler, L. P. (2006). The Ancient Maya (6th ed.). Stanford (Calif.):

Stanford University Press.


Spinden, Herbert J. (1928). Ancient Civilizations of Mexico and Central America.

pp. 223–229.

Tarlton Law Library: Exhibit - Aztec and Maya Law: Aztec Social Structure. (n.d.).

Retrieved October 14, 2019, from https://tarlton.law.utexas.edu/aztec-and-maya-

law/aztec-social-structure.

The Britannica Editors. (2018, April 20). Aztec. Retrieved from

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Aztec.

The Civilizing Mission. (n.d.). Retrieved October 14, 2019, from

https://wwnorton.com/college/english/nael/victorian/topic_4/civilizing.htm.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica. (2019, January 28). Pyramid of the Sun.

Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/place/Pyramid-of-the-Sun.

The Inca. The National Foreign Language Center at the University of Maryland. 29 May

2007. Retrieved 10 Sept 2013.

The Philosophy of Colonialism: Civilization, Christianity, and Commerce. (n.d.).

Retrieved October 14, 2019, from

https://scholarblogs.emory.edu/violenceinafrica/sample-page/the-philosophy-of-

colonialism-civilization-christianity-and-commerce/.

Tremlett, G. (2006, August 7). Lost document reveals Columbus as tyrant of the

Caribbean. Retrieved from

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/aug/07/books.spain.