Spaniards in Southwest America

672 Words2 Pages

The Spanish began their movement to Southwest America in the late sixteenth century. From that point on, their influence both on the Native Americans and the environment was extraordinaire. The goal of the Spaniards with regards to the Native Americans was to transform them “into tax-paying Christians.” This is in contrast to the idea that their goal was to eradicate the Indians form the Americas. Consequently, the Spaniards took many Indians so that they may plant their religion in the Natives and to use them as cheap labor. This led many Indians to learn the customs and language of the Spaniards so they could to be able to thrive in the Spanish culture. Thus, some Natives acquired Spanish, which was the main source of their Hispanicization; this was the notion of Indians becoming encompassed by the Spanish society. Furthermore, Indians gradually learned skills, obtained land, and sometimes found Hispanic spouses, thus furthering their Hispanicization. They now began to live in a Spanish manner and blend into the bottom of the Spanish societal ladder. This “acculturation” of the Native Americans was in contrast to the models of early English colonization. Spanish goals and plans sought to involve the Indians so that they may live in their society even if at the lower end of it’s ladder. English colonies viewed the Natives as savages and looked to them for slave labor or to rape their women. They did not plan to take the Indians into their society as the Spaniards did so throughout this era.
Spanish influence was not only apparent through the Native Americans; the southwest region of America had also experienced its affect. The Spaniards bringing of animals and use of land speedily and greatly changed their environment. Cattle and horses brought by the Spanish extended well across northern New Spain. As a result, these grazing animals flattened grassy areas and packed down soils, which broke down the lands. Through these worn down paths of grazing, water was able to ensue. Overgrazing however, left vegetation scarce and soils eroded. Furthermore, abundant grasslands and wildlife disappeared with these trends, some turning into deserts. Bad agriculture practices also contributed to such turn of events. The Spaniards set to change their environment had not realized the profound negative consequences their actions would have.
“Racial purity, a requirement for elite status in Spain and its American colonies, proved less essential to upward mobility on the frontier than in core areas of the empire.

Open Document