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The Beginning of Civilization - Assignment Example

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The author states that the Native Americans were not civilized. Thus, it was the European colonization that changed them into a civilized society. The people who were ‘uncivilized’ and ‘heathen’ did not have an absolute title to the land they occupied. …
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The Beginning of Civilization
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There is no single accepted definition of the term civilization, but according to history guide.org, there are several definitions by certain authors. One of the definitions is that civilization is, “a form of human culture in which many people leave in urban centers, have mastered the art of smelting metals and have developed a method of writing.” (historyguide.org, 2006).

When Europeans first arrived in North America at the onset of the 16th century, about 200 languages of Native Americans were being spoken. Each of these languages, according to Reynoldson, was different from the others. They had some relations, though. Thus, these languages originated from people who were similar. During the time when Christopher Columbus set foot on West Indies’ island in 1492, his first notion was that he was in India and therefore he referred to the inhabitants as ‘Indians.’ This land today is called South America, North America as well as the islands around the two continents. The native people of the Americas were called “Indians” by the other explorers as well. (Reynoldson, 2000 pp 5, 6)

Native- Americans were not civilized before colonization by Europeans. As written by Vitalis, Dodge played a vast role in separating Indians and whites. Dodge was part of the Indian Commissioners Board that ensured that Native Americans were evacuated from the lands. This was seen as a way of clearing the path for expansion towards the west as well as forcing the Indians to adopt a settled lifestyle. This, according to Vitalis, would lead to an eventual civilization of the Indians. Missionaries would introduce industrial arts, as well as the rudiments of writing and reading to enhance civilization. (Vitalis, 2007 pp38, 39)

The Europeans also argued that the Native Americans did not have proper housing and that they had ‘heathen’ rituals. Other areas from which the Europeans came up with their conclusion was the Native Americans’ military tactics, governance, economics, and families. The English, by the 18th century, had specifically a way of ranking human societies in terms of their cultural complexity. They had the tendency of defining cultural complexity on the basis of economic terms.

The English concluded that hunting, as well as the gathering, was the least complex basis of economies for societies. Herding of livestock, farming and lastly, the mixed economies of manufacturing, commerce, and agriculture followed suit. By this, they meant that the mixed economies characterized by commerce and agriculture were the most economically complex societies. Therefore, this portrayed cultural complexity too.  Read More
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