European Misconceptions About The Indians in essay

European Misconceptions About The Indians

What types of Indian behavior, rituals, and customs did Europeans typically misunderstand or misinterpret? What myths of Indian society resulted? After being isolated from Europe for so long it was only a matter of time before the two worlds collided, the simpler world of the Indians with the more advanced world of the Europeans. Not only was the European world different but the Indian world was multifaceted within itself.

Out of the collision of these two worlds, there were bound to be some misconceptions and misinterpretations. The Europeans often misconstrued certain Indian behaviors. The male Indians were perceived to be lazy since the females tended the fields as well as the home while the males went hunting or fishing. Hunting and fishing to the Europeans was a recreational activity not a necessity for survival. It was customary for an Indian male to have arranged sexual relations if his wife was pregnant or nursing. the Europeans saw this as indulging in every kind of intemperance and wicked lust.

The Indians were seen as naive because they had no interest in amassing wealth, therefore the Europeans concluded that the Indians were childlike and not to be treated as equals. Indians were also seen as heathens because they worshipped a large number of gods. The Indians believed in each being having a different level of manitou. Out of this belief, many different rituals were born.

To appease or woo powerful spiritual entities, individuals would pray and/or sacrifice valuable items such as furs, food, or tobacco but when the entire community sought divine assistance to ensure successful hunts, good harvests, or victories they called upon shamans. These rituals reinforced European beliefs that the Indians were heathens. Many myths about Indian society resulted from European misconceptions.

These myths included but were not limited to: the Indians being naive, bloodthirsty savages who indulged in every kind of wicked lust and performed strange rituals. the Europeans unjustly labeled the Indians because their way of life was different. European perceptions were based on life as they knew it and they felt that their way of life was the right way. Just because someone does something a different way doesn’t mean it is wrong or of lesser value.