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Biological And Cultural Consequences Of European Contact With The Native Americans

2019 words - 8 pages

The consequences of European contact with the Native Americans had grave consequences surpassing the expectations of both sides. However, while the Europeans were able to overcome most of the initial problems surrounding the contact, the Native Americans endured the effects for much longer which led to the decline of Native American power in North America. Both biological effects such as the impact of diseases, and cultural effects including the formation of new societies and the European influence, had devastating effects on the lives the Native Americans had formerly known. While some of the effects of contact could be seen as positive, overall the negative effects from Native American contact with the Europeans proved to outweigh the benefits.
While many of the new things introduced by Europeans had negative effects for the Native Americans, this was not true for everything that they brought. The Europeans brought goods that would revolutionize the cultures of many Native Americans. Probably the most prominent example of this is with the mighty Sioux. The introduction of the horse into Native American culture completely changed the way that the Sioux hunted and fought during warfare. They also were changed by the guns that entered into their societies. With these new means, the Sioux could hunt the buffalos on the plains more quickly and effectively than previously done. The arrival of the horse had a positive effect on the Native American economy. Because of this newfound ease in hunting the buffalos, the Sioux were able to achieve a surplus of food. They also now had an animal that could assume the burden of hard manual labor in the fields. In times of starvation, the Sioux were also able to use horses as a source of food. Formerly, their only domesticated animal was the dog, which could not perform the labor or provide food like the horse. As far as warfare was concerned, the Native Americans suffered great losses upon the first conflicts with the Europeans. Many Indians were armed with bows, arrows, and spears, and clad themselves in a type of leather armor. This proved ineffective against the heavy artillery of the Europeans who had thick metal armor along with guns that easily penetrated the Native Americans. Because of the disadvantages that the Native Americans held in warfare, they had to change the way that they had been fighting for centuries. The Native Americans adopted a new strategy for war that consisted of guerilla style attacks. This way, the element of surprise brought them on a somewhat more level playing field due to their technologically inferior weapons. However, over time the Indians began trading with the Europeans to get guns. This completely revolutionized warfare for the Native Americans. Never before had they been in possession of such powerful arms. This made the Native Americans much more lethal during warfare.
While horses and guns revolutionized warfare, trading for everyday goods greatly improved the...

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