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Mexican American: Alaska to Argentina, Essay Example

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Until recently, my knowledge on the indigenous native peoples of North and South America (and this includes Central America, Canada, Alaska, and Mexico), was based on what I was taught in elementary school, junior high, and high school, but now, after doing some research on the facts about indigenous native groups and cultures, it is clear that I was greatly misinformed. For example, I was told that Pizzaro, the famous Spanish explorer and conquistador, was not responsible for the massacre of an entire race or culture known as the Aztecs.

In fact, it was Pizarro and his fellow conquistadors that destroyed the Aztec Empire sometime in the early 1500’s with much violence and bloodshed. I was also informed erroneously that the Roman Catholic Church in Europe was only interested in converting the native indigenous peoples to Christianity in order to “civilize” them, while in fact, the church was more interested in treasure like gold and silver which Pizarro did take back to Spain to help make the Spanish Crown and the church much wealthier.

Another good example of being misinformed is what I was taught about Native American Indians, especially those that lived in the American West with tribal names like the Apache and the Comanches. Most of the information I was given was very biased and was almost always in favor of the white man; it was also prejudiced and racist, due to picturing Native American Indians as savages and uncivilized. In fact, much like Pizarro and the Aztecs, slaughtering the Indians was one of the main goals of the white man and the US federal government which often turned its back on the Indians and broke many so-called peace treaties. This always reminds me of Custer’s Last Stand at the Bighorn River in Montana where General Custer and his men were slaughtered by the Indians, an event that teachers in the past pointed out was the complete fault of the Indians when in fact it was Custer who should be held responsible.

Maybe the most erroneously thing I was ever taught in elementary school was about Christopher Columbus who supposedly discovered the “New World” in 1492 after sailing from Spain across the Atlantic Ocean and landing somewhere in the Caribbean. During my research as noted above, I found out that Columbus most probably did not discover America; in fact, most historians agree that the Vikings were the first white men to set foot in North America, due to some archeological evidence found along the Eastern coast of the United States and up in what is now Newfoundland in Canada. Exactly why I was taught to believe that Columbus discovered America is not clear, but I think it was because of the lack of reliable information found in our textbooks which always seemed to focus on the heroics and good qualities of the Europeans as conquerors of savages that needed to be converted to Christianity and “civilized.”

Since I have great curiosity, I would like to know much more about Mesoamerica, especially about the Incans and the Aztecs. Historically, as I mentioned about Pizarro, the truth about how the Aztecs and the Incan Empire were destroyed is mostly based on misinformation, such as in junior high when my teachers insisted that like Pizarro, Cortes only wished to convert the Incans when in fact, he was more interested in gold and silver and of course glory as a mighty conquistador. One other area of interest is knowing how and when the first true Americans arrived in North America and at about what time they migrated south toward what is now Mexico, Central America, and South America.

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