The Colonization Of The Americas Essay

The Colonization Of The Americas Essay

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The colonization of the Americas by the Spanish, starting in the late 15th century, was marked by the violent suppression and exploitation of the indigenous populations. Legitimized by royal support and proselytizing papal decree, the colonists expanded territory by force and enslaved natives for the purpose of labor. The colonists had differing views on the practices involving the natives and produced varying descriptions of them. The way in which these men and other settlers viewed the native cultures, practices, and achievements provided the justification or condemnation of the actions that unfolded around them. Men such as Bernardo de Vargas Machuca actively participated in conflicts and persecution in the name of the Spanish crown, while pious men such as Bartolomé de las Casas pursed peaceful conversion and condemned the violence. Both men actively observed the natives in their technologies and societies. The descriptions, “Apologetic History of the Indies” by Bartolomé de las Casas and “Qualities and Customs of the Indians in General” by Bernardo de Vargas Machuca, seem to define the Indians in one general group, which leads multiple contradictory and embellishing statements. Both men came from the perspective of a Spanish settler, and therefore not only described the natives in an objective manner but also in a way that reflected their interpretations of their own identities and purpose.
In order to best understand the descriptions of the natives given by the Bernardo de Vargas Machuca and Bartolomé de las Casas, it must first be understood who they are and the ways in which they described the Spanish, or themselves. Bartolomé de las Casas was a Dominican friar who had once owned native slaves. In his observances of Span...


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...heir descriptions, to their own personal ideologies and intentions.
It is certain that both Bernardo de Vargas Machuca and Bartolomé de las Casas were not entirely accurate in their descriptions of the native populations of the Americas. Their descriptions were targeted generalizations made of off objective observation and hyperbole. In these generalizations Indians are described as uncivilized, but inventive and skilled musicians. Spanish are described as unjust and violent, but had the moral obligation to bring the message of God to the people of the Americas. The descriptions depict not only the native, but also provide an understanding of the Spanish and their own society. The conflicts of colonization and the person agends/ purposes of Bernardo de Vargas Machuca and Bartolomé de las Casas are reflected in their writings on the Native populations of the Americas.

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