The European nations greatly benefited from the colonization of the Americas. From the Americas, the Europeans gained wealth, crops, land, and slaves through the Triangular Trade. However, despite the benefits of colonization, we should not ignore the numerous negatives as well. The Native Americans and the African slaves, where two groups of people who suffered from what the Europeans considered an achievement. While colonization heavily damaged the indigenous and the enslaved people, it is also responsible for the formation and diversity of musical culture in the Americas.
Colonization heavily damaged the indigenous people of the Americas in four main ways. The first, and by far the most fatal to the indigenous population, is disease. Disease alone wiped out millions of the Native American population. The main reason that European diseases were so detrimental to the Native Americans was because the diseases were nonnative. The Native Americans were being introduced to entirely new strands of diseases that they did not know how to treat. This is analogous to what would happen to modern America if we did not have vaccines around flu season.
The amount of people ould be infected would rise exponentially, and there would not be anything to stop the spread. As a result, the amount of deaths from the flu would rise as well. This is similar to what happened to the Native Americans, although it would not be on the same level of magnitude. About 90 percent of the Native North American population died from European disease. That is 16. 2 million people who died because of disease. Despite the fact that disease was the most detrimental, war was another factor that damaged the indigenous population. Europe conquest in the Americas has resulted in the fall of entire mpires through warfare.
The Spanish conquistadors were able to defeat the Aztecs and the Incans. In both instances, the attacking Europeans were equal to less than 2% of the native population. Although, their conquest was assisted by their superior weaponry and armor, the diseases that they carried, and other natives. The Native’s weapons were not very efficient against the European’s iron and steel armor. On the other hand, the European’s metal weaponry and gunpowder weapons were more than proficient on the little to no clothed natives. The diseases, as stated previously, were also fatal to the Native opulation.
With the help of other native tribes who had been conquered by the other two major tribes, the Aztecs and the Incans, were also useful assets. They knew the land better than the Europeans, and their numbers helped even out the battlefield. Similar occurrences happened with the Native Northern Americans as well, which caused the loss of a significant amount of the native population. While disease and war affected the Native Americans physically, there were also psychological affects that resulted from colonization. One of these would be the loss of their culture.
Culture is everything to a society. Culture is the heart of a society; it is what that entire society is centered around. Generally, culture is what holds a society together. When the Europeans landed in the Americas, they attempted to convert the Native American “savages” to Christianity. By attempting to convert them, the Europeans launched a religious attack on the Natives. They came to their homes and told them that what they believed in was wrong, even though it was not their place. This likely caused many Native Americans to question their religion, and probably offended many as well.
This was a mistake made by mostly Spain, Portugal, and England. In contrast, the French and Dutch excepted their differences and made peace with the natives. However, you cannot talk about the loss of Native American culture without also talking about the loss of Native American land. Native American culture was strongly tied to their land. It was their food supplier, where they obtained their resources, were they celebrated, and where they worshiped. Stop a moment and think about suddenly losing your grocery stores, churches, and homes to foreigners.
That is essentially what appened to the Native Americans. However, the Natives were not the only group of people that suffered from colonization. In addition to the Native Americans, the enslaved Africans were also victims of colonization. First of all, they were subjected to horrendous amounts of work the Americas. Not only were their work days dangerous, but they were also relentless. Slaves had to work about 12-14 hours a day, 7 days a week. They constantly injured themselves during the work, and if their injury impeded their work speed, or if they bleed on the product, then they were beaten for it.
Added to this, they were given little food, and the food that they were given was low quality. Not only were the enslaved people worked hard, but they were also taken from their land and their culture to a foreign place. Being separated from their family, and others of their tribes, the amount of culture that the enslaved people kept in the Americas was significantly diminished. They had few, if any, people near them that spook the same language, and no written records of their history from Africa. Their places of worship were also across the Atlantic Ocean, breaking their sychological connection to the places of their past.
All of these aspects are in relation to one factor, dehumanization. After breaking them physically by working them hard, socially by separating their families, and psychologically by taking them away from their culture, the Europeans also dehumanized the enslaved Africans. They treated them like machinery, selling them to the highest bidder and working them nonstop. Each of these factors separately are terrible, but add them all together, and that is enough to break a person’s heart, mind, body, and soul. If colonization never happened, then American music culture as we know it would not exist either.
Most modern day music can trace its way all the way back to the Negro Spirituals. The Negro Spirituals were songs that the African slaves sang as a way to create some form of culture and communication with other slaves. These songs expressed hope, freedom, and relief from hardships. Many of these songs, like “Kumbaya” are still sung today, even if the form is slightly altered, the meaning remains. For example, “Kumbaya” can be translated to “come by here” and expressed the African slaves’ hope that a savior would ave them from the harsh conditions of slavery.
From the Negro Spirituals evolved three main music genres; ragtime, blues, and jazz. The blues embodied the despair of the African slaves. Many of the same things that they sung about in the Negro Spirituals carried over into this style of music. It was a way to describe your hardships in live, in a musical form, and a way for African- American musicians singing it, to retain some of their historical culture. Ragtime and Jazz are two other styles of music that evolved from the Negro Spirituals. Ragtime was an African-
American made music style that was based off the use of syncopated rhythms that, for the most part, only black musicians could do at this time. From ragtime came jazz, which is known widely as “America’s Classical Music”. Like ragtime it used syncopated rhythms, although it became much more based around improvising than traditional written music. However, despite the differences in these styles, they were all a result of colonization and slavery, and are one of the benefits that we have in modern America from these times. Colonization was the cause of millions of deaths.
Native American, African, and even European people were killed because of it. People taken from their land, plague wiping out entire tribes, and many more horrendous events occurred. Although despite this, some positive things did occur from in. Without colonization, America would not be as diverse or technologically advanced as it is today. America’s musical culture would be entirely different from the one we know today. Colonization is proof that historically, when a terrible act occurs, they are still benefits that can occur because of it in the future.