Europe Claims America

The Atlantic Joined

The dramatic encounters of Europeans and American peoples from 1492 to 1600 varied considerably from place to place and over time. This section of the exhibit examines the immediate consequences of contact in the five geographical areas of America reviewed previously.

The Indian peoples sometimes greeted Europeans warmly, provided them with food, and taught them important new survival skills. In some cases, they perceived them as being divine, or at least spiritually powerful. Some used the newcomers as allies against old enemies. Others saw them as new enemies, to be grudgingly tolerated or strongly resisted. Native peoples were quickly disillusioned by treachery or mistreatment at European hands.

The Europeans brought technologies, ideas, plants, and animals that were new to America and would transform peoples' lives: guns, iron tools, and weapons; Christianity and Roman law; sugarcane and wheat; horses and cattle. They also carried diseases against which the Indian peoples had no defenses.

The interaction among groups produced a complex mosaic of relationships. Varying forms of resistance and adaptation among Indian, African and European peoples occured throughout the region.

Continue the Voyage with The Caribbean: Las Indias or abandon ship and use the Outline.