Europeans & First Contact
Europeans first came to North America in the 16th and 17th century, At first, the Natives regarded their lighter skinned visitors as something of an intrigue, not only for their clothing, jewelry and hairstyles but also for their great technology, huge ships and varied weapons such as steel knives, swords and cannon.
But they soon found out that Europeans did not hold the same values as they did when it came to nature and the environment. Much like it is with certain people today, nature to the Europeans was more of an obstacle or commodity, something to be either abused or conquered. The sole purpose of a beautiful forest was how many board feet of lumber it could produce; animals were only worth what their pelts could bring on the market,
American Indians were yet another commodity when it came time for Christian conversions. The more, the better. The Europeans also brought with them diseases that were unheard of in America and they devastated the Native American. Conflicts developed between the Native Americans and the Europeans, who began arriving in ever greater numbers.
The conflicts led to the Indian Wars and much carnage on both sides. Then, The Indian Removal Act in 1830 and other acts were instituted by the Europeans in order to accomplish their various objectives. And they were largely successful because the nomadic lifestyle of the Indian tribes caused an unwillingness to cooperate with one another plus they were at a huge disadvantage due to their lack of advanced weaponry.
The end of the American Indian wars coincided with the end of the 19th century. The last major conflict was what became known as the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 in which Indian warriors, women, and children were slaughtered by U.S. Cavalrymen at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. It is an event that is remembered and honored by Native Americans and European descendants alike. Some believe this was the final horrid stain in American History but a look through these pages will show you that the American Indian Tragedy continues today with the poverty of Indian reservations.