What effect did the European settlement have on American Indians?

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European settlement had overwhelmingly negative consequences for Native Americans. Though Native American tribes did occasionally form positive relationships with European settlers, permanent European settlement in America eventually led to disease and displacement. Native Americans had no immunity to European illnesses and their population was devastated by the (sometimes deliberate) introduction of diseases like smallpox. Over time, most surviving tribes were forcibly relocated from their traditional lands to make way for expanding European settlements.

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kipling2448 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

European settlers to "the New World" had a major, and mostly negative effect on the indigenous populations across North and South America.  Whatever the motivations, those who settled North America left in their wake a legacy of poverty, domestic, drug and alcohol abuse, and an impenetrable sense of hopelessness among Native American communities.  European settlement resulted in the displacement of native tribes, the wholesale destruction of cultures and the implementation of genocidal policies that decimated Native American tribes.  The deliberate contamination of Native communities with diseases alien to North America like Small Pox wiped out large numbers of Native Americans, affecting subsequent generations.  The usurpation of the most productive grazing lands and the expulsion of Native tribes from their historic territories and onto inhospitable reservations scarred those communities for eternity.

In short, the effect of European settlement on Native Americans was profound and devastating.  Hundreds of years after those settlements began, the effects are still being felt in the extraordinarily dysfunctional cultures that replaced the ones that were destroyed.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

European settlement in the New World had a number of impacts on Native Americans.  Mainly, though, settlement pushed Native Americans off their lands.  It led to them either dying or being forced onto reservations.

When the Europeans first came to the New World, they had two main effects.  First, they brought germs that spread through Indian populations, killing huge numbers of them.  The germs even killed Indians who had never seen whites because they passed from Indians who had been in contact with whites to others.  Second, they brought new technologies and they brought horses.  These things changed the Native American ways of life tremendously.  For example, we think of the Plains Indians as horse people, but they of course had no horses until Europeans came to the Americas.

As European settlement expanded, Indians were pushed farther and farther west.  Some fought wars to try to prevent this and were killed.  Those who were not killed were eventually put on reservations, typically on land the Americans did not want. 

In these ways, European settlement had a tremendous, and often devastating, effect on Native Americans.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

European settlement was devastating for the Native Americans.  From the time the first Europeans came, the American Indians could never have imagined how negatively they would be affected by the Europeans.  At first, Europeans brought diseases to which the American Indians had no immunity.  Thus, many American Indians died from these diseases.  As more Europeans came, the Europeans eventually wanted more land.  This land belonged to the American Indians.  Thus began a long series of conflicts and war between the Europeans and the American Indians.  In most cases, the American Indians lost their land to the Europeans.  Either through conflict or deceit, land was taken away from the American Indians.  Eventually, American Indian ways of live were destroyed, and they were encouraged to assimilate into European, and later American, ways of life.  Over hundreds of years, the Native Americans were negatively impacted by the arrival of the Europeans to the Americas.  That negative impact continues to this very day.