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The Columbian Exchange: Interaction Between Whites and Indigenous People Essay

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Updated: Oct 6th, 2021

The provided reading material, in regards to interaction between Whites and indigenous people, during the course of Exploration era, provides us with the insight on many aspects of this process that have been previously overlooked. For example, Alfred Crosby views European geopolitical expansion from “environmental” prospective, while suggesting that White settlers would not be able to achieve an undisputed social dominance in newly discovered lands without having utilized European flora and fauna as their allies. Author provides us with numerous examples of how domesticated animals, brought from Europe to the New World, were able to destroy the original environmental balance.

Also, he links colonization’s successfulness to the climatic conditions, while suggesting that Whites always had a hard time, while trying to settle in areas with hot climate. By doing it, Crosby strives to diminish the role White people’s existential qualities, within a context of their colonizational practices, as according to him, it were harmful diseases, and plants and animals, brought from Europe, which overcame the resistance of aboriginees.

The article “Comments on American Indian and European Interaction” develops this thesis even further, while suggesting that: “The Europeans would win in the end not because of individual superiority, but because of greater numbers, and logistical and productive superiority”. Apparently the author of this article had never heard of conquests of Kortes of Pizzaro, who caused the empires of Maya and Incas, populated by millions of people, to collapse like a stack of cards, within a matter of very short time, while relying on “great military force” of less then two hundred undernourished men an few horses.

From conversation “Indians, Colonists, and the Environment” between William Cronon and Richard White, it appears demographical decline of Natives in North America was closely related to the fact that their natural habitat was being heavily impacted by newly arrived Europeans, who had an entirely different outlook on relationship between humans and the environment.

Both historians imply that the fact that Indians thought of animals as such that are being entitled with “magical” powers prevented them from being able to utilize these animals with utmost efficiency, which contributed greatly to geopolitical downfall of natives Americans. In his article “Colonial America without the Indians: Counterfactual Reflections”, James Axtell fantasises how would European colonization of North America proceed, had it been unpopulated.

He rises many interesting points, although it is hard for us to understand article’s relevance to the question, presented in case study, because conventional history operates with notions of “what had happened” and not with “what could have happened”. The essays “Conquest and Colliding Empires” provides us with extensive factual information, regarding colonization of North America. For example, we get to learn about the fact that introduction of Christianity and alcohol to Native Americans always proceeded hand in hand. In fact, Christian missioners would often wait for the people in particular Indian village to get spiritually corrupted by consumption of alcohol, before they would bring them “good news”.

However, despite the fact that mentioned articles are being heavily influenced by authors’ strive to legitimize a Liberal outlook on historiography; they still contain a clue, as to what caused intercultural exchange between Whites and aboriginal people, around the world, to be asymmetrical. According to one of the basic laws of physics, energy strives to be equally spread out within three-dimensional continuum (energetic entropy).

The reason why it were Europeans that affected the New World, and not the other way around, is because, at the dawn of era of Exploration, humankind’s existential energy, in form of White people’s metaphysical idealism, was being concentrated in Europe, and once the route to the New World was discovered, this energy started to flow westwards. This was also the reason why even animals and plants, brought by Whites to new lands, acted as their closest allies.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "The Columbian Exchange: Interaction Between Whites and Indigenous People." October 6, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-columbian-exchange-interaction-between-whites-and-indigenous-people/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'The Columbian Exchange: Interaction Between Whites and Indigenous People'. 6 October.

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