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In the "First Encounters: The Confrontations between Cortes and Montezuma (1519-1521)," chapter one, we examine that the Native Americans and the Europeans had different impressions of each other. On how each of the two sides treated the other depended how they perceived the other side. The natives later changed their minds from seeing them as invaders and inhuman to worthy political friends. This documentary analysis will examine briefly the natives and Europeans in 1519 to 1521 and how they treated each other.
The Native Americans perceptions believed that Cortes and his group were fulfilling what had been prophesized earlier that a god could come and overthrow them. While a few natives greeted the Europeans with curiosity and were also curious to trade with their strange items, some wanted them to just go and others accepted them as explorers or settlers and befriended them. Thus the natives welcomed the Europeans at first although they later learnt that the Europeans were intruders. The Europeans also had their own perceptions of the Natives, from their judgment of long hairs, nudity of the natives they then build the image of impoverished worldly 'aliens' whom they can easily control over because of their laziness and childlike behavior. Cortes' discourse says that the limitations of humanity earlier attributed by Columbus are true although he improves on the account later as he was leaving; he considers them as equals although cursed sadly by a repulsive religion. They then plan to reclaim the humanity account that they were denied.
In his letter, Cortes describes the natives as childlike, defenseless, vulnerable and innocent and he uses the notion that innocence is incompatible with exercise of power then implicitly justifies his American conquest and subjects to an authoritarian system. On the social scale, Cortes sees them as serfs and who are meant to sustain them of course through exploitation; this reduces the natives' limitation of humanization. About religion, Cortes finds that the natives are not religious. They had a culture of slaughtering at least one person in each temple he writes to the emperor to request the pope to send investigative committee to look onto these believes that causes the deaths. They saw the native priests as cannibalisms living on human meat as a source of proteins, this religion is what most fascinated and repulsed the Europeans.
The natives can be seen to employ a chain of command with time. In early 1519, Cortes describes his native attackers as a band of Indians but by late 1519 they have organized themselves and in 1520 he describes them as regiments. The native are ruled by a chief whom Cortes first refers as 'Indian chief' but later due to attitude change he calls them 'captain'. All these accounts show that when he met the natives first, he had a low opinion of them but this later changed as he was now seeing them as fellow equal humans and he refers them with appropriate names although he did not. The natives are seen later as having a clearly defined political structure. Cortes admires the city and sends some of tokens of culture materials to the king in 1520 which were admired for their ingenuity.
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From the artistic representations, sources 2 through 9; the first of German woodcut, 1509 shows natives without clothes scrambling for the explorer probably thinking he is superior than their native men. This will obviously make the explorers mistreat the natives. This shows that the natives held themselves lowly than the Europeans. A Portuguese engraving also shows human sacrifices most probably in the temple. This shows the cannibalistic nature of the priests although for religious purposes. Another German engraving of 1591 from source 6 shows the Europeans mistreating the natives probably after learning of their weaknesses. Another German engraving from source 7 shows the natives using boats crossing a river. Next is a French engraving showing a native woman having a good time with an explorer lastly there's a native carrying a head of a person showing that the Indians were cannibals. Although at first we see that the Europeans are mistreating the natives, later we can see them interacting and being beneficial for their inventions. The natives at first were suspicious of the Europeans but later they integrated with them well.
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