The Indigenous People of Latin America

The indigenous people of Latin America were very amazing and quite an advanced are of people. They aren’t often given a lot of credit for being advanced. Most only think they were “savages” and couldn’t do what the Europeans could. That’s usually because the indigenous people didn’t have guns, or ways of making things like steel. However, they did so much more and if the Iberians had realized that, they probably could have helped each other very much, but the Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans were taken control of and enslaved. But, how were they enslaved and treated quite horribly? And, even now, indigenous people are not afforded the same rights as others within their nations.

When posed against the Europeans, the indigenous people very much outnumbered the Iberians. They were also way better with their weaponry as well. They had more power in their bows and better aim with them as well. When compared to the Iberians and their gun skills, the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas were better at shooting, even with their supposed “savage” techniques and such. They were also advanced in certain science and math. For example, the Incas were learning a lot from the brains they were dissecting and learning about. They were good at some really unexpected things and were making quite a lot of strides in many fields. However, if the indigenous people were so good at things, why did they not retain their territories and become successful against the Iberians?

Unfortunately, the Aztecs, and Mayans, and Incas were quite isolated within their territories and never explored other parts of the continent or never went anywhere new. This was ultimately their downfall because they were never exposed to other places and environments; essentially their immune systems sucked. It is really unfortunate. The Spanish and the Portuguese brought with them, not only guns, and metal, like steel and stuff, but they also brought with them a heap of new diseases that really ravaged the indigenous populations. Smallpox was a big one. Disease wiped out about 95 percent of the indigenous people. There have been historical estimates of how many indigenous people there were before the Iberians invaded. People have estimated about 90 to 112 million people. And about 95 percent of those people were killed from disease. Thats like 85.5 to 106.4 million people that died. That’s how the Spanish and Portuguese were able to gain control over the indigenous people. There was most certainly other factors that played into that, but the biggest factor, by far, was disease that the Iberians were somewhat immune to and the indigenous people were not immune at all.

The Spanish and Portuguese took over the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans and enslaved them. Made them work in fields and in mines and such. Then, they began bringing Africans over and enslaving them as well. So, races and blood lines were mixing and a hierarchy grew from it, with the whitest people at the top and the darkest people at the bottom. Unfortunately, there are still parts of this hierarchical society in present day Latin American countries. Most of the countries will not allow people from indigenous descent hold a position in government and the people who are closest to the indigenous population are mostly in the poorer and lower classes than those who might have more European descent. This is so very similar to the United States, where no Native American descendant has even come close to holding a position in government. In 2008, we elected our first African American President, were not even close to electing Native Americans into any sort of office. However, Bolivia did elect its first indigenous leader, Evo Morales, which is great news. It means that they are making great strides towards the actual concept of equality. I only hope the U.S. can follow this example.

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