Compare and contrast the worldviews of Europeans and Native Americans.

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mrkirschner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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When Europeans and Native Americans first contacted one another, the differences in their cultures and world views could not have been more different.  At the core, the major differences that existed between the world views of Europeans and Native Americans at the time of Columbus were theological and eco-political.  Europeans were deeply driven by Judeo-Christian ideals and mercantilist policies.  The motivation to evangelize the world to Christianity informed how Europeans interacted with the Native population. The concept of private property, mercantilism and profit was important to the Europeans and drove them to acquire land and resources. The Europeans also tended to be ethnocentric and see foreigners as “savage” or inferior to themselves. Differences in religion and beliefs were not tolerated in Europe during the age of exploration.  Europeans, confident about themselves after the Renaissance, believed themselves to be superior.  

The Native American worldview was much different.  Natives believed that the land was sacred and had a religious purpose.  They belonged to the land, the land did not belong to them.  They did not believe in private ownership of land or property.  Communal proprietorship was common.  The native tribes also used a barter system which was different from the European coin system. Natives did not believe that one person could speak for an entire group.  It can be stated that the native people had a more democratic system than the monarchs of Europe.  When these two groups interacted, the differences in worldview led to disputes and violence.  

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