The meeting of European invaders and the Indigenous people of the western hemisphere was one of the most profound events in the history of human society on our planet. Historian Jay Miller described the effect of that contact on the inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere this way:
“The arrival of Europeans in the Americas brought to the native peoples change of a kind that went far beyond their capacity to understand, or even imagine–unprecedented change, terrible change, havoc and death. South of the lands later to be known as the United States, powerful empires fell. And millions died from the scourge of epidemic diseases unleashed however unintentionally, by the first conquerors, the Spaniards.’
The Spanish were incredibly successful in plundering Mexico and Peru. Eventually these Spaniards had only one goal–riches. Harvesting souls came later. Bringing civilization came even later and then mainly as an excuse for plunder–a whitewash.
As Jay Miller said,
“For, at least initially, extracting wealth–easy wealth–was their prime aim in the new lands they had encountered. Anything of value they laid their eyes on, they snatched, looted, and pillaged.”
When the European invaders and their deadly diseases laid low huge swaths through the native populations it had an overwhelming effect on the natives. It was absolutely devastating and the few survivors left to deal with the Europeans had to do so without their leaders, most of whom had died.
Miller described the effect this way:
“The old order could not cope with the onslaught. Finding themselves largely leaderless, and therefore severed from their most powerful access to the gods, at a loss to account for the thousands of friends and families dead from strange and disfiguring diseases, the survivors suffered a profound crisis, both of shock from immediate, multiple loss, and of faith. Their world destroyed, they would need time and radical change before some semblance or their traditional community life could be rebuilt.”
Have any other people suffered such absolute devastation? It is not surprising that the effect has cascaded through the generations ever since.