Native American vs. European Way of Life Essays

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Native Americans and European Compare/Contrast Essay

Europeans lived a much more modern way of life than the primitive lifestyle of Native Americans. Europeans referred to themselves as “civilized” and regarded Native Americans as “savage,” “heathen,” or “barbarian.” Their interaction provoked by multiple differences led to misunderstanding and sometimes conflict. These two cultures, having been isolated from one another, exhibited an extensive variation in their ideals. Europeans and Native Americans maintained contradictory social, economic, and spiritual practices.
The European social structure was heavily influenced by land ownership, with a land-wealthy elite at its center. Europeans viewed land as a resource to
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Women in European societies enjoyed very little social importance. In Native American societies, women also held inferior positions, but not to the degree instituted among European women. Native Americans determined family membership through the female line, contrary to the European patriarchal system. A woman could divorce her husband if she wished. Europeans regarded this reversal of sexual hierarchy as dangerous and peculiar. Senior women of a village instructed the men during decision-making, determined the chief of a clan, and retained impeaching powers. Europeans regarded this sexual equality as another example of the uncivilized nature of Native Americans.
Native Americans easily engaged in trade with Europeans. They wished to include new glass and metal items in their society. European and Native Americans viewed trade as a means for economic development. Native Americans viewed trade, also, as a way for communicating with individuals and maintaining interdependence. This is evident in the elaborate gift giving celebrations that occurred before exchanging of goods occurred. For Europeans, however, these social and spiritual functions of trade were limited a great deal more.
Europeans and Native Americans both retained religious beliefs. Though, Native Americans articulated their beliefs in a less structured way. Europeans were monotheistic. They attended churches led by and educated clergy. And, unlike Native Americans, interpreted written scriptures. In