The move towards making American history more inclusive towards the Native Americans has led to a disconcerting trend in which many individuals, in the academic community, are trying to redefine the cross cultural interactions of the Europeans with the Native Americans. Many progressive historians, educators, scholars, and activists are trying to characterize and illustrate the European’s treatment of the Native Americans and their interactions with them as genocide. This movement is primarily focused upon making the year 1492 as the start date of the deliberate five hundred year genocide of the Native Americans. “In the counter-Columbus, counter-celebratory literature, genocide has become the dominant abbreviation or code word to describe Columbus and his successors’ relations with the Indians.”
This train of thought is erroneous and deceitful. The Columbian Exchange was a tragic cross pollination of the “Old World” with the “New World” that led to the creation of transatlantic slavery, mass ecological extermination of the native fauna and peoples in the Americas and Africa. Despite the fact that the Columbian exchange inflicted massive amounts of trauma upon the New World, it was not a deliberate act of slaughter carried out by the Europeans. This tragedy was an antinomy of creation and destruction. The primary goal of the various European powers was to establish economic, political, cultural, religious, and military hegemony over the indigenous peoples. The Europeans were not seeking to exterminate every Native American in the “New World”.
The primary question that must be asked was: how should the academic community approach this broad characterization? Consequently, the word genocide must be defined, and its context and structure must be analyzed to see if this term is appropriate to utilized to describe the Europeans’ actions in the Atlantic World. In Major Problems in Atlantic History, Frank Chalk and Kurt Jonassohn define genocide as “a form of one-sided mass killing in which a state or other authority intends to destroy a group, as that group and membership in it are defined by the perpetrator.”
James Axtell writes “ Such a definition excludes from consideration victims---civilian or military--- of two sided war,...