Contributions to America

Contributions to America Early American society was
comprised of many different elements. The biggest
contributions to the society was the American Indians,
Africans, and, of course, the English, the biggest of the
three. Their relationship together was far different than what
we have today. You wouldn’t just see some African and
view him as just another American. It also didn’t have a
triangular connection, where everyone interacted in some
way with everyone else. Instead it was more along the lines
of the Africans relationship with the English, and the Indians
relationship with the English, not the Africans and Indians
relationship together. To take a closer look at this we need
to first look at each people separately. Native Americans
weren’t the same as a whole. There were hundreds, if not
thousands, of different tribes. These tribes had different
ways of living than others. They were hunters, agriculturists,
hunter-gatherers, or fishers, and each one had some
different and some similar views. All of them had sexual of
their labor, but in different ways. The hunters had the men
do the hunting and the women do the food processing and
clothing production. Such a sexual division is not always
common, however. In certain agricultural societies the men
were responsible for the agricultural labor. In others, the
men did the clearing of land, women did the rest of the
work, and the men did the hunting. It doesn’t seem like any
one sex had more power than the other did. Many of these
societies had their extended family defined matrilineally, or
through a female line of descent. This didn’t mean that it
was a matriarchal society, or power by women, just a
means of reckoning kinship. Some tribes had, instead of
this, their lineage defined patrilineally. Their political
structure was much of a government. Most tribes just had a
village council, which was the highest political authority.

There wasn’t much of a hierarchy. The Iroquois, by
contrast, had an elaborate political hierarchy that linked
“villages into nations and nations into a widespread
confederation.”1 Women’s political position varied from
tribe to tribe. In the agricultural peoples, women were more
likely to assume leadership positions than among the
nomadic hunters. Their religious views differed, but they
were all polytheistic (worship or believe in more than one
god). Their rituals and their gods would then relate to the
type of people that they were: hunters, gatherers, etc.

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Some differences between the Indian and English culture
caused misunderstandings. They were both hierarchical, but
they their nature differed considerably. The English’s
hierarchy was inherited through their father. But the
authority of the some of the Indian leaders rested on
consensus. So when the English tried to negotiate treaties,
“they overestimated to ability of chiefs to make
independent decisions for their people.” They also had
different views on the holdings of land. The Indian believed
that know one owned the land, it was just for everyone to
work on. The English, however, was the exact opposite.

They insisted on having their own farms, and buying and
selling land. Basically, above all, “the English settlers
believed unwaveringly in the superiority of their civilization.”
Because of this belief of superiority, the English settlers felt
that they could do anything they wanted to the land or the
inferior Indians on it. They expanded and expanded to the
point that the Indians felt in danger. Because of this they
would occasionally fight back. Opechancanough, a tribal
and war leader, launched several coordinated attacks on
the settlers. By the end of the day, about one-quarter, or
347, lay dead. They only stayed alive because of a warning
by two Christian converts. The encroachment of the
Indians land is the primary cause of this war.3 Another
major race that contributed to the early American society
was the Africans. They may not have been from the same
culture, but the black Africans were not viewed as cultural
people. The English didn’t think anything on the lines of
them being regular people like the rest of them. The English
were smarter, more advanced as far technology and
education, and they were white. These three things put
them far ahead of the Africans. The English settlers also
had money. With this they could by the slaves that they
needed. The African nations enslaved their own people or
people captured in war. Because these countries were
extremely poor and they needed any money they could get,
they would sell their own slaves to the English (American).

The slaves view of the world was usually just being a slave,
because they were slaves nearly all their life, that was the
only thing the knew of. When they were taken aboard the
ships, they thought the white men were Gods, and also that
they were being punished. Some of the younger ones had
no idea of what was going on, but the older ones had heard
that they were just being taken to some other land, and that
they were just going to become slaves their. Because that
was the only thing they had ever known, the scared
Africans minds were eased. One young slave stated, “I
inquired of these what was to be done with us; they gave
me to understand we were to be carried to these white
people’s country to work for them. I then was a little
revived, and thought, if it were no worse than working, my
situation was not so desperate.” This was how it generally
was with most the slaves. They didn’t seem to mind at first.

Later when they saw that freedom was an option, if you
weren’t black, they wanted it. The English and the Africans
didn’t get along to well, but there wasn’t a lot of fighting
like there were the Indians. They just viewed them as
objects that could be bought and sold. They also expected
them to be as “English” as they would allow. For Example,
the English tried convert them to Christianity. They
succeeded with some, but not all. Even though they
allowed them to be Christian, they still wouldn’t allow them
to marry or do other things that Christians do. These three
races of people didn’t exactly blend well together. This is
partly because the English thought of themselves as the
best, and with their advancements over their counterparts,
the Africans and Indians, they were able to prove to them
that they were better.