December 9, 2015
Spanish Explorers and the South American Indians
Long before European arrival and settlement, religious and cultural differences was part of the landscape of America. The indigenous people of this land were separated by language, landscape and ritual practices. When most European explorers arrived in the Americas, they did not even consider that the people they met and encountered had cultural and religious values that were different from their own. In fact, most believed that these people had no culture or religion at all. It was to them like a "new world." Spanish and French Catholics were the first to arrive during the sixteenth century. The excerpts provided show the different positions and relationships the European explorers had with the Indians and other indigenous peoples.
The first document, The "Sublimus Dei", was a document written by Pope Paul III. Many of the European missionaries who sought to spread Christianity to the indigenous people were motivated by a sense of mission, seeking to bring the Gospel to those who had never had a chance to hear it, thereby offering an opportunity to be “saved.” In the context of the often brutal treatment that these native people received by early Spanish conquistadors, many missionaries saw themselves as siding with the indigenous people compassionately and protectively. Pope Paul III declared that Indians were not beasts to be killed or enslaved, but human beings with souls capable of salvation. In his letter, he wrote, "Even though they be outside the faith of Jesus Christ; and that they may and should, freely and legitimately, enjoy their liberty and the possession of their property; nor should they ...
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