How did Spain, France, and England treat Native Americans differently?

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mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

France, Spain, and Great Britain all dealt with the Native Americans as they colonized the Americas. Each country treated them differently.

The Spanish, for the most part, treated the Native Americans poorly. The Spanish were interested in the riches of the Americas, and they had no problem in forcing the Native Americans into slavery so they could mine the gold and the silver for Spain. The Spanish also viewed the Native Americans very negatively regarding their religious practices. The Spanish wanted to convert the Native Americans to Christianity. There were, however, some marriages between the Spanish and the Native Americans.

The French had a better relationship with the Native Americans although initial some manipulation occurred. The French traded with the Native Americans. They also converted them to Christianity. The French and the Native Americans often married. There was much less competition between the French and the Native Americans that led to a better relation between them.

The British didn’t treat the Native Americans well most of the time. The British and later the Americans felt the Native Americans were holding back progress. They want to take land away from the Native Americans. The British viewed the British ways of life as far superior to those of the Native Americans. The British had few negative thoughts of the Native American way of living.

Each country had different interactions with the Native Americans. France seemed to have the best relationship with the Native Americans.

pholland14 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The three major European powers on the American continent—England, France, and Spain—had different Indian policies.  Spain tended to treat the Indians worst.  The Spanish destroyed Native American religious sites and subjugated tribes into slavery.  They also did not take care to preserve cultural artifacts; the Spanish conquistadors who conquered the Aztecs melted down priceless golden sculptures.  While there was some protest over the treatment of the Indians, most notably from a Dominican friar named Bartolome de las Casas, this was the exception rather than the rule.  

The French saw the Native Americans as valuable trading partners.  French traders often married into tribes for diplomatic and economic reasons.  While there were never many French living in the New World, the French were able to claim a large swath of territory due to these trading networks.  French officials in the New World were also able to exploit tribal rivalries for their own benefit.  

English settlers saw the Indians as being in the way of their farms.  Other than in Pennsylvania, where the land was bought mostly fairly from the Indians, the Indians faced harsh wars and punitive treaties when dealing with the English.  During times of war, the English would make treaties with tribes who were allied against the French, but they would not honor these treaties after the war was over.  Wars between the English and Native Americans were quite fierce, most notably in King Philip's War.