Novell Layoffs Essay, Research Paper
The Conflict of the Un-Civilized
The Native Americans were viewed, by the settlers, as a savage and uncivilized race; however, due to the ruthlessness towards the Indians and later the blacks, the settlers proved themselves more savage than either race.
First the terms savage and civilized must be properly defined. Civilized and civilization refer to two different aspects. Civilized refers to a person or persons that are characterized by taste, refinement or restraint (Merriam-Webster’s). Civilization refers to a relatively high level of cultural and technological development. Savagery is lacking complex or advanced culture, wild and uncultivated (Merriam-Webster’s).
What determines if people are civilized or not? Ignorance, and at most times stupidity, plays a large role in peoples views of whether or not someone is depicted as civilized or not. For the new settlers who came to the new world, they saw the American Indians as people who are not technologically developed; therefore, they have become instantaneously uncivilized. This crude stereotype was incurred, not by deep investigation but by quick and first impressions; that were not, and at most times refused, to be looked into deeper and lacked to comprehend the new cultures they have discovered. In Christopher Columbus’s Letter to the Sovereigns on His First Voyage, he shows a moral understanding of the new people he has discovered. Columbus first makes a statement of how different and un-advanced the Indians are, ” all go naked, men and women, as their mothers bore them They have no iron or steal weapons, nor are they capable of using them ” (500 Years 6). But Columbus then refers to them as a timid culture, “Of anything they have, if you ask them for it, they never say no; rather they invite the person to share it, and show as much love as if they were giving their hearts; and whether the thing be of value or of small price” (500 Years 6). In spite of their hospitality, Columbus found the natives to be fearful and defenseless savages. “They have no other arms than arms of canes, [cut] when they are in seed time, to the ends of which they fix a sharp little stick, and dare not make use of these ” (500 Years 6).
Similarly, John Smith is an example of a person who knew the American Indians well; however, he found them to be clever. “They are inconsistent in everie thing, but what feare constraineth them to keepe. Craftie, timorous, quick of apprehension and very ingenuous. Some are of disposition feareful, some bold, most cautelous, all savage” (500 Years 13). John Smith wan not the only person in is time that had such a negative view of the Indians. Most of these negative ideas have probably surfaced due to battles, kidnapping, assaults, or the mere sight of resistance the Indians gave. Most of the settlers and explorers of the time were not used to seeing a primitive man who get along without the modern day conveniences that the Europeans were used to.
Mrs. Mary Rowlandson also found the Indians to be animal like savages. They held her captive and separated her from her husband and children; and at times, denied her food and shelter. Rowlandson had to dig through garbage for food; food that she would have gagged at the near sight of, if she had not been in captivity.
Heart-aking thoughts here I had about my poor children, who were scattered up and down amongst the wild Beasts of the Forest: my head was light and dizzy, (either through hunger, or hard lodging, or trouble, or all together,) my knees feeble, my body raw by sitting double night and day, that I cannot express to man the affliction that lay upon my spirit” (American Autobiographies 35).
On the other hand, some might believe the opposite is true. That is, the “White Man” is the savage. They kill all those who do not believe in the white man’s beliefs. In many ways the Indians had different perspectives on how the white man were savages. As Powhatan said in Speech to captain John Smith:
Thinke you I am so simple, not to know it is better to eate good meate, lye well, and sleepe quietly with my women and children, laugh and be merry with you, have copper, hatchets, or what I want being your friend: then be forced to flie from all, to lie in cold in the woods, feede upon Acorns, rootes, and such trash, and be so hunted by you, that I can neither rest, eate, nor sleep (500 Years 15).
Chrestien LeClerq, saw the French as an illogical people for leaving their homes, families, and lives to come to a place where they must live in a place they consider barbaric:
Thou reproachest us, very inappropriately, that our country is a little hell with France, which thou comparest to a terrestrial paradise, inasmuch as it yields thee, so thou sayest, every kind of provision in abundance. Thou sayest of us also that we are the most miserable and most unhappy of all men, living without religion, without manners, without social order, and in a word, without any rules, like the beast in our woods and our forests, lacking bread, wine and a thousand other comforts which thou hast in superfluity in Europe For if France, as thou sayest, is a little terrestrial paradise, art thou sensible to leave it? And why abandon wives, children, relatives, and friends? Besides, since we are wholly convinced of the contrary, we scarcely take the trouble to go to France, because we fear, with good reason, lest we find little satisfaction there, in our own experience, that those who are natives thereof leave it every year in order to enrich themselves on our shores” (500 years 18).
LeClerq believed the Indians are more happy and powerful than the French ever were (500 Years 19). For the Indians to see a white man so dedicated to war and destroying the nature around them, is to make the Indian believe that these white men are wild savages on their own. Moreover, the white man justified killing the Indians merely because they were not Christian.
As time progressed, the white man used their savagery to become, what they considered, a civilized race. As the new world grew in size, great amount of labor was needed to keep the country going. In the past the white man killed the Indians only because they were not Christian. Later in time, people were enslaved, Christian or not, mainly due to the idea that they were a lower race, because of their skin color. To the respective time that the Indians were suppressed, in the latter time the blacks were worst off. The Indians had the option of converting to Christianity and adopt the white mans way to break out of the Indian suppression. For the Indians who refused to convert, they had the ability to flea from the white man and live in peace and solitude. Regardless of the ideality of how the Indians were considered a savage race, they still were thought of as humans.
The blacks were brought into the new world as positions and property. Unfortunately, the blacks were not able to flea and live in solitude as the Indians did. The blacks solely existed to serve the white man. They were deprived of all rights of humanity, did not have a voice, nor were able to defend themselves for a white man’s crime. “To all these complaints, no matter how unjust, the slave must answer never a word” (Classic American Autobiographies 252). They were severely beaten for talking back, not following orders, or for trying to run away. “Barney, a man between fifty and sixty years of age, uncover his bald head, kneel down upon the cold, damp ground, and receive upon his naked and toil worn shoulders more than thirty lashes at the time” (Classic American Autobiographies 252).
As it has been discussed, time and time again the white man put themselves above all other races, only to prove themselves more savage than they saw the Indians, and no term can describe how inhumane and unjust the treatment of the blacks. The white man saw the Indians as savages due to their undeveloped ways, and the blacks were seen lesser due to their skin color. As the perspective of savagery changed, the white man turned out to be the savage because they refused to learn and see through the eyes of other cultures.