Columbian Exchange Essay

The Columbian Exchange

The Columbian Exchange is a global exchange of goods and ideas between the Old World, Europe, Asia and Africa. When Columbus first discovered America, Spain wanted to set up colonies. Columbus found some people that he named “Indians.” Their colonies started to trade with each other starting the Columbian Exchange. Many countries were involved in this trade, including China, Africa and Italy. This exchange of new ideas, traditions, food, religion and diet changed cultures everywhere.

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The Native Americans gave and received many items. They were important politically, societally, and economically in many ways. One of the most important items that the Indians received was horses. Before horses, Indians had no way of carrying heavy loads from place to place. Valuable plants and animals crossed the ocean, making survival much easier for poor people around the world. Europe, Africa, and Asia received tomatoes, chocolate, potatoes, corn, green beans, peanuts, and turkey from the Americas. America in turn received cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, and coffee from Europe, Africa, and Asia. Ideas also flowed between the continents; in particular, some Europeans began to denounce slavery and colonialism when they saw how destructive both were in the Americas. They believed that pre-Columbian Native American societies had value and were in some ways superior to European society. Questioning the destruction that took place in the Americas helped bring about the Enlightenment and the idea that all peoples can and must live in peace and equality.

Politically equality was important to the Native Americans. Although, it was vulnerable because of the European Nation State. When the Europeans encountered the Indians they didn’t see a church or an organized religion, they assumed that the Indians were atheists, but they found out that the Indian religious system was deeply complex and it was steeped in every aspect of Indian life. Hunters “relied on the power of their dreams to help them locate their prey and foretell the kill” missionaries tried to eradicate Indian religion and convert them into Christianity. However, many Indians were unwilling to convert religions and when preached at by the
European missionaries they would politely listen but disregard what they were saying. Some Indians were much more violent in their resistance, they fought the missionaries some even shooting at them, but their loose tribal communications would result in their downfall.

The merging and clashing of cultures during the Columbian Exchange in 1787 helped shaped the Americas to be the country it is today. There was a lot of bloodshed and the native Indians were almost wiped out, but their techniques and practices that we learned have a huge part in society today. Such as, how to farm more efficiently, genetically engineer crops, and more effective techniques when hunting. The Americans tried to convince the Indians that they were apart of country and that they were one of them. The Indians such as, the Iroquois did not see it that way, but in reality they really were. Their cultures shaped our cultures and the old Americas shaped the Indians in vice-versa.