The Europeans encountered American Indians when they initially made incursions into the “New world”. Their optimism that they would be able to extend their respective kingdoms as well as grow rich with the trade of exquisite items led them face to face with the native inhabitants of the American continent. The Europeans see them as “primitive people”. They noted the apparent ignorance of the natives, because of their lack of knowledge concerning some of the modern innovations during that era.
Christopher Columbus, on his written memoirs noted some facts concerning the native Indians(Columbus’ reports to Ferdinand and Isabella ). Columbus noted that they do not have any knowledge of metal craft, that the natives do not know how to make and use weapons, probably because of the fact that they have no need for it since they are peaceful beings, that they do not seem to practice Cannibalism, unlike other primitive natives and that the natives are very generous with what they have, up to the extent of actually offering what they have to others.
The natives were also observed not to have practiced idolatry, but believes that everything associated with good comes from heaven, that the Indians revere them probably in reference to their color and the innovative things they possess, and that the Indians were observed not to have any individual inclination to own any object privately. Everything they have is distributed by a single person who is in charge of doing this.
Two other explorers going by the name Jacques Cartier, and Thomas Harriot made the same evaluation that the Indians on that continent were very generous with what they have, that the Indians are a poor people in terms of knowledge and skill, and that this is probably the primary reason for them to seek our friendship(Cartier, J. ), and that the Indians have this notion that the equipment the colonizers brought were things made by the celestial beings themselves.
The Indian’s perception of a European during Pre-Colonial times. The Native Indians first impression when they came to face with Europeans was that they are actually face to face with gods, or celestial beings as noted and observed by Columbus on his memoirs. This adulation being given to the westerners probably stems from the fact that they seem fairer to the natives because of their white complexion, and also because of their superior equipment.
Of course as time goes by, the natives became familiar and aware of the reasons as to why the white men encroached on their domain. This knowledge eventually led to contempt. This contempt is best depicted from the work of Christien Le Clerq, wherein an Indian actually “belittles” the westerners because of their malcontent, their apparent stupidity and greed. By all means, this depiction proves to be an accurate replication of Indian resentment in the later years of European interaction with Indians because of the enmity which ensued between the two races.
It can be noted that the reverence which Indians gave the Europeans eventually changed to hate and revulsion of their cruel treatment of Indians, their greed which drives them to obtain material things at any cost, and of their desire to subjugate the Indian race under their rule or dominion (. Le Clerq, C. ‘New Relations of Gaspesia’)
Excerpt of Christopher Columbus’ report to Ferdinand and Isabella (1493) Jacques Cartier’s description of his arrival at Hochelaga (1535) Harriot, T. ‘Brief and True report of the New found land in Virginia (1588). Le Clerq, C. ‘New Relations of Gaspesia’