The traditional life of the North American Indians has changed greatly since the arrival of colonisers. The destruction of their way of life occurred when settlers took over the land and drove them from their homes. It was inevitable that the colonisers influenced their religious beliefs, clothing, warfare, hunting practices, and food sources. The North American Indians lived very close to nature.
The land was the main part of their religion. Before the arrival of the settlers, they believed that all living things had spirits. Spirits were grand and powerful forces that controlled the seasons, and the wind and rain. These were called the 'Holy People'. Sacrifices were to please the spirits. Sacrifices might include 'ritual suffering's uch as dances involving self torture, for example the 'Sun Dance'.
Dancers would thread leather thongs through their skin and dance until the skin ripped and they broke free. After the colonisers arrived, Christianity was forced onto them, and their religion was called heathen. They were not allowed to practice their religion. This change was negative because the religion of the colonisers was imposed on Native American People and hence it sends the message that their culture has little value and is primitive. The clothes of the North American Indians were decorative and colourful.
Everyday clothes for women and children were practical, colourful, straight cloth dresses with leggings and moccasins made from buffalo hide, decorated with beads. Warriors had more elaborate war costumes; colourful trousers laced with feathers and beads, a special 'medicine's hirt, which they believed could protect them with magic powers, and some wore headdresses known as 'war bonnet', made of many feathers. Colonisers called the North American Indians savages because of their different clothes, and because the colonisers did not understand their different culture. They were forced to give up their culture and way of life. This caused conflict and was a negative change because the colonisers had no respect for the Native Americans.
North American Indians fought with bows and arrows, spears, clubs, tomahawks and knives. Arrowheads were crafted from buffalo bones, or stone. White settlers used rifles, pistols and heavy artillery to fight with. The North American Indians did not stand a chance against the firearms of the colonisers. Many nations were forced at gunpoint from their lands, and they were helpless against it. Guns were sold to North American Indians but it just increased conflict.
This change was definitely negative because the amount of killing was large on both sides. North American Indians had specialised hunting practices. They used bows and arrows and spears to hunt down buffalo. The warriors raced in and out of the buffalo herd on horses and only killed as many as needed.
Every part of the buffalo was used- nothing was wasted. When the settlers arrived with guns, buffalo were killed so quickly and needlessly that the population was dramatically reduced, and they almost died out. Many North American Indians starved. The loss of the buffalo was a severe, and negative change. There was no loss of food sources for the North American Indians before the settlers arrived. The most important food source was the buffalo.
Other food sources were wild vegetables such as peas, onions and radishes, and deer, rabbit and antelope were also eaten. The colonisers wanted the land for their own use so they started building railroads and killed the buffalo for workers to eat, cutting off the Native Americans main food supply. This alone is a negative change. Therefore it can be seen that the North American Indians had led a very traditional and serene way of life before colonisation. The colonisers have destroyed their life by denigrating their customs, religious beliefs and cultural practices.
Colonisation is always destructive and one should oppose it from re-occurring. Though change is inevitable especially in this global society, this does not mean that one culture is considered superior to any other. Macdonald, Fiona. Native Peoples of North America, 1993 May, Robin. A Plains Indian Warrior, 1986 Macdonald, Fiona. Facts of Life of the American Frontier, 1996.