Nineteenth-century History

Contact is important, but what about the other tens of thousands of years?

I have to say that I am quite disappointed with my Native American Studies class this semester. I was (apparently naively) assuming that we would focus more on Native American culture and more on the history of the Native American peoples before first contact with the European nations. I was, however, wrong.

We spent the first two weeks covering the pre-contact era and have now suddenly began talking about the first encounters with the Spanish in Mexico. I understand that there is not really a whole lot known about the Native Americans before contact, but there is certainly plenty of available knowledge out there to fill a semester-long course! Of course I also understand that the first contact with Europeans is extremely important because of the incredibly devastating effects it had on Native American culture and society, but I have already heard so much about it, that I really don’t want to spend another semester discussing it.

My hope was to learn something of the vast variety of cultures in the Americas before the Europeans destroyed all of them. I have to say I am extremely disappointed in that.

2 Comments
  1. February 12, 2009 4:58 pm 

    Do you really believe that the Europeans destroyed “ALL” of the Native American cultures? I think the Navajo, Hopi, Apache, and Gila Indians in my state would disagree with that.

  2. February 12, 2009 6:02 pm 

    I don’t think the Europeans necessarily destroyed ALL of their cultures per se (I suppose I should have worded it better in my post), but I do think the European influence did destroy the, for lack of a better word, “purity” of their cultures, which is what I am most interested in learning about. The cultures before European influence. We hear so much about their cultures after European contact that I would like to hear more about their cultures before European contact. Not to say that their modern cultures today are not fascinating in their own right, I was just hoping to learn something I haven’t already heard before.

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