Indians and Land Ownership

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Native American Unit Final Paper

Europeans came to the new for them continent of America searching for several important things. First of all they were looking for gold and spices. As Howard Zinn wrote in his "History of the United States":'These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland, who were remarkable (European observers were to say again and again) for their hospitality, their belief in sharing. These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance, dominated as it was by the religion of popes, the government of kings, the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and itsfirst messenger to the Americas, Christopher Columbus.'Columbus came for gold which was becoming'the new mark of wealth, more useful than land because it could buy anything,' and to get gold he did not spare lives or freedom of any men, women, or children who inhibited the lands Spaniards discovered. When other Europeans, especially the ones suffering for their religious beliefs, learned about the new beautiful land, where they could live free from religious oppression and ruthlessness of the kings, they started settling America. After Columbus massacred Arawaks of the Bahamas for gold, Cortes did the same to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizarro to the Incas of Peru, and'the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots' for land to build their new life on. Zinn writes:'When the Pilgrims came to New England they too were coming not to vacant land but to territory inhabited by tribes of Indians. The governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, created the excuse to take Indian land by declaring the area legally a “vacuum.” The Indians, he said, had not “subdued” the land, and therefore had only a “natural” right to it, but not a “civil right.” A “natural right” did not have legal standing. The Puritans also appealed to th…

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