American Indians and the Explorers

smith and native When Europeans and American Indians Met: A Terrible TimeMine. All mine.

Imagine this.

Strangers arrive on your doorstep. They are tired and hungry. Some are sick. You invite them in, and give them food. Soon they start taking your things. They push you out of your bedroom, and soon they push you out of your house.  How would you feel?That is what often happened all across America whenever European explorers and settlers met with American Indians.




powhatan indian house 500 Nations

European explorers bragged about “discovering: America, but the truth is there were millions of people living in over 500 different nations in the Americas on the day the first European ships dropped their anchors along the Atlantic coast. The first people of the Americas live all across the continent, in woodlands and grass lands, from the chilly north to the warm southwest. American Indians lived in thousands of towns and villages, each with strong cultures, languages, and traditions. All that changed with the arrival of the Europeans.






Pushed From Their Homelands

The kings and queens of Europe who paid for the explorers’ trips wanted gold and land. Their explorations led to new settlements in the Americas as land was “claimed” in the name of Spain, England, France, and other European countries. Armed with guns, cannons, and sometimes attack dogs, the European settlers quickly began to grab what was not theirs. They tried to enslave the Indians and force European religious beliefs on them. It was a very sad time, and the American Indians were soon forced to leave their homelands and relocate to other regions.


smallpox aztecs Death by Fever

One of the deadliest blows to strike the American Indians did not come from guns or attack dogs. This “weapon” could not be seen. It traveled through the air in sneezes and coughs and on clothes and blankets. Unseen germs caused terrible diseases such as smallpox and measles, which could quickly wipe out entire Indian villages. Why did this happen? The peoples of the Americas had never been exposed to these germs before and had no immunity. That meant their bodies could not fight off the germs. Two out of every three America Indians on the continent died.

At first the germs were spread by accident, but in time some European colonists infected villages on purpose with smallpox-laden blankets. They then took over the land after the Indians had died.

The Europeans had a devastating impact on the American Indians.  They brought deadly diseases to the tribes, settled the land and claimed it as their own and eventually pushed the Indians off their own land.  No wonder it was considered a “Terrible Time.”