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Christopher Columbus And Native Americans

Decent Essays
Christopher Columbus ‘discovered’ the Americas in 1492, and from then on various encounters between Columbus, along with other conquistadores, and the Native Americans took place. These encounters helped to shape centuries of debates over the meaning of the ‘human’ and ‘humanity’, with arguments over who is human and who needs to be made human. This essay will argue that these encounters created a language of superiority within these debates, basing conceptions of the ‘human’ on racial, religious, and cultural distinctions, and how they interrelate. Furthermore, we can see the impact of such encounters in contemporary definitions of ‘human’ and in the actions and attitudes towards those who have been, and continue to be, left out of such definitions. This issue is significant as the essay will argue that this debate is ongoing and still affects different groups of people today. This argument will be made through analysing the different types of encounters and the different sides of the debates around them. First, this essay will explore the conquistadores’ policy of assimilation. The second section will then focus on the removal of Native Americans, with the third addressing enslavement. Finally, it will conclude with the argument that these different encounters constructed a language of hierarchy which shaped debates on who gets to be labelled ‘human’. Assimilation: One of the ways in which encounters between conquistadores like Columbus and the indigenous inhabitants of
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