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Violence Over the Land Chapters 1-4 Discussion

  1. Chapter 1 Pg 27: Blackhawk explains that not all Spanish settlers had the violent appetites of their leaders and many tried to mitigate damage and violence by their own hand. However, they still unknown my spread microbes, technologies and motivations that contributed to the violence: Blackhawk writes “the technologies of violence needed for colonial rule could neither be regulated or monopolized.” What does this demonstrate about the nature of colonialism and how can we apply it to our world today?

  2. Chapter 1: as we learn in the book, Most historians agree that the idea of “owning” or “conquering and acquiring” land didn’t really exist in native tribes before colonialism introduced them to it; nor did slavery. What does this tell us about the nature of colonialism?

  3. Throughout the book we do see tentative periods of peace and alliances between colonies and native tribes. What circumstances/practices led to and sustained these alliances and peace periods?

  4. Chapter 2 page 73: In chapter two we learn about almost 8000 native children who were taken by New Mexico settlers and their Ute allies and either enslaved or baptized and forced into adoptive Spanish families as part of their assimilation efforts. They are described on records as Ute children, but given that New Mexico and the Ute nation had a strong alliance at the time and often captured these children together historians think it’s unlikely these children were actually Ute, and were instead children taken from very small native tribes in eastern California. Most of them have no ethnic or parental records. What is the harm of this lack of differentiation on behalf of the colonizers?

  5. Chapter 2 page 77: Here we learn about the “serial rape” of native women and girls, at the hands of both colonizers and dominate native tribes. We are told that native enslavement was usually solely of young girls. Let’s discuss the intersectionality of this unit with our unit on feminist theory.

  6. Let’s discuss the roles that interracial people, or, the Spanish called them, “genízaros” played in the colonizer landscape. What did you find interesting about their roles in both tribal and colonizer societies?

  7. In chapter 3, page 94, a group of Christian missionaries was on a conversion expedition. Ute natives warned them of potential danger further north and implored them not to continue. When the missionaries refused, the Ute’s asked them to write a letter to their superiors to let them know they had passed through Ute land safely, so that if they should die, their superiors wouldn’t blame/take it out on the Ute people. The missionaries also refused to do this, and in doing failed to realize how they were possibly endangering the communities they traveled too. How can we apply this story to situations in modern day?

  8. Ch 4 page 121: when Americans and Brits began taking land from Spaniards, many native tribes alliances with the Spaniards fell through, and without means of trade they were forced to raid other tribes for food and goods to survive. What does this tell us about the nature of colonialism?

  9. Ch 4 page 137: To summarize briefly (note that several details are omitted) the changing colonial regimes in the region between Spaniard to Americans and Brits and the French made it difficult for natives to establish trade negotiations and relationships with ever changing new settlers and colonialism in general led to disease, starvation and ecological disaster for native people. Upon seeing the native people struggling, instead of understanding/admitting they were to blame, colonizers began deeming them “primitive” and comparing them to animals, an unfortunately very common racist trope that only led to further dehumanization. This tropes obviously did exist among the Spaniards even when native societies were thriving solely nexuses their ways differed from European customers, but the increased struggles of native people under colonialism really solidified these problematic racist tropes. How did learning about this process help you better understand racism today?

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