The Spanish,specifically Queen Isabella, sent Christopher Columbus to discover a new routeto Asia, in order to compete with the rising power of the Portuguese. This onedecision however, began the race for world colonization and would eventuallylead to the death of millions of Native Americans from war, famine,displacement, and disease. The first recorded contact between Native Americansand European powers occurred in 1492 CE when Christopher Columbus arrived inwhat would later be referred to as “the New World”. Contrary to this namehowever, this new stretch of land was quite old and had been inhabited forthousands of years prior to Columbus’ arrival, because of the use of oraltraditions by many Native Americans there is little that is known of them priorto the invasion of Europeans in the early 16th century.
In fact,a lot of what is written about Native Americans was not written by the peoplethemselves until quite recently. Instead, a large number of the documents werewritten by European colonizers as a way to ‘justify the slaughter andmistreatment of the native population’ (Clare 2). The first native tribe to havecontact with European powers was the Lucayan who were described by Columbus as”healthy, generous, and hospitable people, who wore gold jewelry around theirnecks, hanging off their ears and even adorning their brow” (Zinn 57). When theship that Columbus was sailing on-the Santa Maria- was shipwrecked, theLucayan Natives worked for hours to rescue the ship, and save the crew andcargo.
Columbus took twenty-five Lucayan Natives with him on his return voyageto Spain in order to show the king and queen both the wealth and the free laborthat was available in the New World. Of the twenty-five Lucayan Natives thatColumbus took, only seven survived to Spain, and none were recorded as havingreturned to the their homeland. Upon returning to Spain, Columbus sold thequeen on the idea of a new world saturated in wealth and prosperity beyond herwildest dreams. In return for his services she gave him seventeen ships, 1,500men, and an arsenal of swords, crossbows, and cannons.
Upon Columbus’s arrivalback in the “New World” he called the Lucayan elders to his ship and demandedthe people give his men not only food and gold but their women as young aseight. When they refused they were sent back to their villages with their earsand noses cut off as a warning to the others. When the natives eventuallyrebelled Columbus used the opportunity as an excuse to go to war and take theirresources with force.
Eyewitness accounts describe the fallen Lucayan warriorsbeing fed to hunting dogs while still alive, screaming and wailing in agony asthey died (Zinn 76). Despite having quelled the rebellion, Columbus rounded up500 Lucayan natives, chained them below the decks of his ships, and sent themto Spain to be sold as slaves. Of the five hundred sent, only three hundredsurvived the voyage. Another 500 natives were enslaved and kept in the NewWorld to mine for gold (Zinn 81). The remaining Lucayans fled into themountains to escape enslavement and with that the Lucayan people were no more. Columbus’s final departure fromAmerica in 1504 left a power vacuum through which the British rushed to stealland and colonies from the Spanish (Morison 653-654). Thus, began Britain’scontrol over the New World, especially the East Coast. The first officialBritish colony was Jamestown in Virginia.
Jamestown was established on May 14,1607 by a group of roughly 100 members. However, a lot of the settlers had noknowledge of farming since a large majority came from cities. They were alsocursed with a long and colder than usual year their first year. This lead tofamine which along with the resulting diseases from the dead bodies and warswith the local native tribes decimated the number of inhabitants of Jamestownfrom 100 down to around 60. The third year however saw a forced alliancebetween the Algonquian chief and the residents of Jamestown. Thus through itsconsequential growth Jamestown became the first of the large British colonies.
The colonization of Korea began with theend of the Korean Empire in 1910 and officially ended at the conclusion ofWorld War II in 1945. There were three treaties that progressively broughtKorea under Japan’s rule. The first of these treaties was the Japan-KoreaTreaty of 1876. The treaty also known as the Treaty of Ganghwa Island in Koreawas signed by representatives between the Empire of Japan and the Kingdom ofJoseon on February 26, 1876. There were a few things that led up to thecreation of the treaty. One of these events was the Ascendancy of Daewongun.
When King Cheoljong died in January of 1864 without an heir, 12 year old Gojongwas pronounced king and his father, Yi Ha-?ng became the Daewongun or lord ofthe court. As Daewongun, Yi initiated many reforms that strengthened themonarchy. This strength however, came at the expense of the Yangban class.
The strong dictatorship of HeungseonDaewongun was overthrown by Queen Min, who instituted a policy of closing Koreato European powers. During the dictatorship, both France and the United Statestried unsuccessfully to open trade with Korea. However, after he was removedfrom power, many officials that pushed for the idea of open commerce withforeigners.
During this turmoil, Japan developed a plan to open and exertinfluence before Western powers were able to. Their plan was put into action in1875 when the Un’y?, a small Japanese warship was dispatched to survey coastalwaters without Korean permission. On September 20th, the ship reachedGanghwa Island which in the previous decade had been the site of many violentconfrontations between Korean and foreign forces. The memories of theseconfrontations were still fresh in the minds of the people then, when the Un’y?sent a smaller boat to land on the island. When the Korean forts opened fire onthe small boat, the Un’y? answered back with superior firepower.
It thenattacked another Korean port before withdrawing back to Japan.The Japan-Korea Treaty of 1905 wassigned on November 17, 1905. This treaty deprived Korea of its diplomaticsovereignty and also made Korea a protectorate of Imperial Japan. The treatywas a result of Japan’s victory in the Russo-Japanese War in 1905. With Russia’ssubsequent withdrawal of influence after the Imperial Japanese victory, and theTaft-Katsura Agreement, where the United States agreed not to in Japan’smatters concerning Korea, the Japanese government sought to formalize itssphere of influence over Korea. Delegates from both Empires met in Seoul toresolve problems, however, with the Korean Imperial palace being under Japaneseoccupation, and the Imperial Japanese Army stationed at advantageous locationsthroughout Korea, Korea was at an obvious disadvantage throughout thediscussions. The treaty, which was signed by the Korean cabinet, gave Japancomplete responsibility for Korea’s foreign affairs, and placed all tradethrough Korean ports under Japanese supervisions.
Thethird and final Japan-Korea treaties were the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1907 andthe Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910. The Japan-Korea Treaty of 1907 gave Japancontrol of Korea’s internal affairs. The Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910 was themost influential treaty and officially began the period of Japanese rule inKorea. The treaty also gave the Emperor of Japan all of the rights ofsovereignty over Korea. Because of the humiliation that Koreans faced, manycall it Kyeongsulgukchi in reference tothe year and Gukchil in reference to the day that the treaty was signed. Unbeknownstto Korea, the United Kingdom had already agreed to the annexation of Korea byJapan in the Anglo-Japanese Alliance of 1902. The legality of the fourth treatywas later disputed by the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, aswell as the South Korean government.
Their reason for disputing the legalitywas because by Korean law the treaty would have to be signed by the King ofKorea, which it was not, instead, it was signed by Prime Minister Lee Wan-yongof the Korean Empire and Resident General Count Terauchi Masatake of the Empireof Japan. According to archaeologists, ‘priorto European influence, more than 700 distinct Native groups existed, each withtheir own beliefs, languages, customs and practices’ (Hightower-Langston 15). However,due to disease, famine and war, nearly half of the native population has beendecimated by today.
Often times, 95% to 100% of a Native population was wipedout from disease alone. This means that once wars and displacement began only5% of a population would be left to defend themselves. In order to protect whatlittle community they had left, a lot of Native tribes signed peace treatieswith European powers. The treaties promised Native peoples the rights to huntin their assigned territories and fair and equal treatment under the law. Thetreaties also set aside small areas of land where the natives could liveundisturbed by settlers, these areas were called reservations.
However, despitethe written agreements between both native and European powers, a lot oftreaties were broken or were ignored all together. This meant that the smallamount of land that natives were able to hunt on outside of their reservationwas taken away and a lot of times they were forced to move to even smaller,less hospitable areas to make more room for settlers.Alongwith forced migration, settlers began what were called “Indian Boarding Schools”.Native American boarding schools were established during the late 19thand early 20th centuries for Native American children and youth inorder to teach them about Euro-American traditions and practices.
The first ofthese schools were established Christian missionaries. Children at theseschools were typically immersed for years on end in European-American culture.Some of the changes they had to undergo included haircuts, being forbidden fromspeaking in their native languages, and the replacement of traditional nameswith more “Christian” names. These schools were often harsh, especially for theyounger children who were forcibly separated from their families. A largenumber of children who entered these schools died from diseases such assmallpox and measles which spread fast in the over cramped dorms. Those who didmake it home usually could no longer speak their native language and so by themid-20th century, most Native American languages had died with thelast of their speakers.
Only 150 Native languages remain of the original 700 ormore.Inaddition to loss of language and culture, Native American’s also lost theirreligious beliefs through the spread of Christianity from colonizers. For a fewyears, Native people were able to live peacefully without much interferencefrom settlers in terms of their religious practices. This is because Europeansconsidered their lack of Christianity to be due to a lack of civilization thatwould allow them to comprehend the Christian religion.
Native American peoplewere made to feel inferior due to their religious practices. Some of thesereligious practices included respect for nature, long natural hair, and abelief in the connection of people to the earth. These beliefs were verydifferent from those of the Europeans. In terms of nature, Europeans believedthat the Earth was made for them to use how they want; Native Americans saw theEarth as their mother and just as how one would not abuse or mistreat theirmother they believed that to mistreat the Earth was to mistreat one’s ownmother. Natives were forced to convert to Christianity or risk losing theirlives.
However, if they did convert to Christianity they were ostracized fromtheir tribe and therefore lost their friends and family. At the time ofEuropean settlement, Europeans had begun to cut their hair short with thelatest fashion trends. This trend followed them to America where they forcedthe Native people to do the same. A lot of the problems that Native Americanscurrently face, such as obesity and unemployment stem from losing not onlytheir culture, but their people and their land as well Native groups always suffer underthe hands of the colonizer. Whether it is for greed for simply for a show ofpower, the same story plays out time and time again throughout history. Similarto how the Native Americans were killed and their land was taken, and how theAztecs were completely wiped out by the Spanish; Korea also faced atrocitiesunder Japanese rule. When a colonial nation invadesanother nation-moral ambiguity of the issue aside- they gain access to theinvaded country’s financial and economic aspects. The same is true for Japan’sinvasion of Korea.
Prior to the official annexation of Korea, Japan began landsurveying for the consolidation of their colonial economic system. In 1912, theGovernment-General established laws that granted the Japanese ownership overall Korean land. With this land, Japan began a large-scale resettlement programwherein 98,000 Japanese families settled in Korea prior to 1918 (Ministry ofCulture and Tourism). This meant that Korean farmers were forced to work forthe Japanese government and were constantly on the brink of starvation. In additionto the hardships faced by farmers, an estimated 724,727 Korean workers weresent to mainland Japan, Sakhalin, and the Pacific Islands as forced labor inmining, construction and shipbuilding. While in theory, Koreans, astechnical subjects of the Japanese empire, should have enjoyed the same statusas Japanese citizens, this was not the case. Instead, the Japanese governmenttreated Koreans as a conquered people and attempted to destroy as many aspectsof Native Korean culture as possible. However, in order to prevent a resistancefrom growing with the Korean people, the Japanese Government-General was verycareful when it came to public awareness and education.
The Ministry of Cultureand Tourism states “Thus, in a nationwide search conducted in 1910 for books onKorean history and geography, between 200,000 and 300,000 were confiscatedand burned. Some confiscated materials included Korean readers, biographies ofnational heroes, and Korean translations of foreign books relating toindependence, nationalism and revolution. Japan also ordered historians at theResearch Department of the Southern Manchurian Railroad Company were ordered byJapanese officials to rewrite Korean history in order to prevent nationalism. The History of the Korean Peninsulawritten in 1915 is one example of the books written by these historians. Japan further expanded its controlin the area of education. As the Ministry of Culture and Tourism states thatthe Japanese attempt to annihilate the Korean national consciousness was evenmore conspicuous in educational policy. Many schools were closed leaving 90% ofthe youth uneducated and illiterate.
Between the years of 1910 and 1922 thenumber of private schools dropped dramatically from 2,000 to around 600.Anotheratrocity that Koreans faced under Japanese rule was the use of “comfort women”.It is estimated that 200,000 Korean women were forced into sexual servitude bythe Japanese military. Often times girls were packed into trains and sent tothe front lines of the war in the Pacific and were forced to work in Japanesemilitary brothels. These girls were taken to shacks near the frontlines andonly given a blanket on the floor, they were identified by numbers instead ofnames and were often times drugged and beaten before being raped. One survivor,Yun Doo Ri gave a gruesome account of her experiences as a “comfort woman”:”Whenmy cuts and bruises had healed slightly, they put me backintothe same room. Another officer was waiting for me.
They musthavewarned him about me. He did not wait and did not give me amomenteven to think of protesting. He swiftly knocked me down, andstarted pushing his thing inside of me. It happened all so fast. Ifoundmyself bleeding. I wasn’t even sure where the blood wascomingfrom. I only felt pain.
Something in my body was torn apart.I putmy teeth into his cheek. Now we were both bleeding, he from hisface and I, somewhere below . . . I was fifteen.”Whileother countries in Japan’s empire had “comfort women” Korea provided the most,with most of the women being tricked into thinking that they would be workingin factories or hospitals.
Still other women were seized by soldiers who weresent to villages to collect virgins. Many of the “comfort women” died in thebrothels from disease or malnourishment. In conclusion, while both Koreansand Native Americans faced atrocities under colonial rule both faced them indifferent ways, with a lot of the atrocities differing due to era differences.Although, Koreans went through such a horrifying time of destruction and death,Korea has become a powerful nation and is the 11th nominal GDP inthe world.
While Native American’s are slowly taking back their culture andland and embracing what made them different from the colonizers that stoletheir identity form them.