General History/17c Atlantic History
Atlantic history focuses greatly on the exchange of people, commodities, ideologies, and even disease between indigenous people and Europeans. What are some examples of the “hybridity” of the early modern Atlantic? In what ways did the indigenous groups influence, change, or effect the European colonizers (Spain and Britain)? In what ways did the European colonizers (Spain and Britain) effect the indigenous groups? Should Atlantic history focus more on these exchanges and co-existence or on the narrative of conquest and domination?
Hi Elena and thank you for your question,
Native Americans left behind many place names that were adopted by the Europeans. Examples include the Connecticut, Susquehanna, Potomac, and Rappahannock Rivers (and of course the state of Connecticut). Native Americans introduced Europeans to several plants that Europeans had not previously known including tobacco and corn.
Europeans introduced Native Americans to modern technology including cloth (previously Native Americans had worn only animal skins), iron (including guns, axes, knives, and cooking utensils), gunpowder, and alcoholic beverages. Native Americans had not domesticated any animals prior to the arrival of Europeans, except for the dog. Europeans introduced Native Americans to the horse and to a lesser extant to other farm animals.
I don't see much point to studying co-existence, since co-existence was never widely practiced. There were always racial and ethnic tensions between Europeans and Native peoples. While each group learned from the other, neither side was much interested at the time in assimilation.
Hope this answers your question,