Native Americans and Early Europeans Culture Misunderstanding

Native Americans developed their own cultures centuries ago before the first European settlers arrived. Each tribe had a strong spiritual belief with most sharing a similar one. The first encounter of the natives and Europeans was friendly. However, as the European settlers began to grow and spread to more and more American lands, their relations began to soar.  Cultural differences became more insurmountable. Europeans began to demonize the Native Americans in an attempt to excuse their own behaviors (taking their women as concubines, stealing natives’ land, enslaving tribes and over-hunting game).

According to American History, p1, Native Americans had their old way of thinking and doing things as compared to Europeans. One of the main cultural differences in the two communities was their attitude towards the natural habitat and land. Natives believed that Nature was Godly, which was totally alien to Europeans. Europeans though the Natives were wasting a precious commodity that should be used to generate money and wealth. This difference in the two communities’ belief became one of the major root causes of the many wars between the two.  Without hesitation, Europeans made their own rules and made piece of American land their territory. They started trading on the land and found no shame in it.

Before Europeans invaded the American lands, Natives worshiped sun gods, wolves, nature spirits, corn gods and bears. Europeans considered Native Americans barbarous because they worshipped painted images and wood curves. Europeans considered themselves as messengers sent by God to convert Natives to Christians.  The issue of religion was among the major problems that led to many wars between the Native Americans and the European settlers. Europeans settlers were very serious about their Christian religion. They referred to Christianity as one true faith that all people should believe in. Soon they realized that Native Americans were not interested in changing their beliefs. As such, European settlerscould not trust Native Americans because they were not Christians. The settlers began to fear Native Americans because they had no religion and believed strongly in unseen powers.  Native American believed that the thing that made up the universe depend on each other and were not ready to follow foreign beliefs (Weigl Publishing. Inc, p18).

Additionally, the other thing that led to crisis perhaps was the demand of a Native American to stay off the settler’s land. Fear of killing trespassers replaced friendship with hatred between the two communities. A good example is the King Philip’s War.

As time passed, fear and lack of understanding between the two communities increased. After Matacom’s brother died of a European disease, Matacom blamed the settlers of bring a foreign disease to their land. In Matacom thinking, settlers were destroying the land and by changing it and grabbing prime areas.   The cultural differences about land use, language, gender roles created misunderstanding and resentments. Besides the issue of land, the two communities talked different languages and gender roles differed with each community.

Native Americans allowed their women to rule and control and make important decisions. On the other hand, European subjected their women to house chores and childbirth. When Europeans discovered that Native American Women were strong, they fought against the tribal nations to suppress the Native American cultures into submission. As such, the clashes of cultures continued as more and more Europeans arrived in America (Schultz, p53).


Coomer D. A Comparison of the European and Native American Cultures.

American History: A Clash of Cultures in the New World (VOA Special English 2007-10-31).

Native American Clashes with European Settlers.

Schultz K. HIST: US History Since 1877. 1st ed. New York: Cengage Learning; 2015.

Weigl Publishing, Inc. Michigan. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.; 2008.

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