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Spanish Attitudes Towards the Native Americans

W_CO_History3_New_Mexico_Founders-300x242The Spanish attitude toward the Indians was that they saw themselves as guardians of the Indians basic rights. The Spanish goal was for the peaceful submission of the Indians. The laws of Spain controlled the conduct of soldiers during wars, even when the tribes were hostile. The missionary’s role was to convert the Indians to Christianity. This would be followed by the Indians being accepted as members of the Spanish civilization. However, the exploitation of the Indian occurred constantly.

The Anglo attitude was one of total removal from their lands or total inhalation. The Indian was continually pushed aside or killed.

Altered Lifestyles The Spanish altered Indian life in many ways. Their intrusion resulted in changing tribal customs and religious traditions. Tribal alliances were shifted and new rivalries were developed. Indians lost their land, their families, and their lives.

The Indians were required to feed the intruders with food originally used to feed themselves. This proved to be a burden during the dry growing seasons. Implementing the encomienda and repartimiento systems forced Indians to pay taxes with food, blankets, and their labor. Repartimiento was a detriment to the Indians because it took them from their own fields to plant and harvest the Spanish fields.

Spanish leaders formed alliances with some of the Indian tribes and provided them with tools, crops, livestock, and arms. The new materials available to these tribes gave them superior weaponry over their enemies. As Indians acquired horses, they became more mobile. The Spanish weapons and horses obtained by marauding Indians were quickly used against peaceful villages.

Sanson1656-300x177Indians were punished when they followed their own religious beliefs so tribal ceremonies were held in secrecy. Many Indians blended their customs into the Spanish customs while some Indians completely gave up their old way of life.

Spanish villas and farms were constructed on prime Indian land and near important water sources. Indians were losing prime farm and grazing lands at the same time they were taxed into working the land for the Spanish.

Sheep were traded to the Indians and then later stolen back by the Spanish. The wool from Spanish sheep replaced the cotton plant as the material used in Indian blankets. The Spanish raided Indian camps, stole livestock, and took Indian women and children who were used as servants in their homes.