European Perceptions of Native Americans

Initial European perceptions of Native Americans viewed them as uncivilized savages who, with time and effort, could be educated and assimilated into European culture. Christopher Columbus reported his opinion of the Indians in the following manner:

They should be good servants and of quick intelligence, since I see that they very soon say all that is said to them, and I believe that they would easily be made Christians, for it appears to me that they had no creed. Our Lord willing, at the time of my departure, I will bring back six of them to your Highness, that they may learn to talk (Hurtado 46).

This passage shows that Columbus believed the Indians intelligent and would be easily converted to European ways, but did not think them equal to Europeans. Columbus demonstrates his ethnocentricity by disregarding Native American religious beliefs, and by assuming that because they did not speak a European language they could not “talk.”

Europeans viewed the Indians as having inferior cultural practices such as their laws, government, economics, mode of living, religion, property ownership, and education/writing. However, the Europeans believed that these cultural traits of the Native Americans could with little difficulty be changed to resemble European cultures. In 1620, the first college for Native Americans was established to educate Indians in European ways, and in 1640, Harvard opened a college for Indians. This proves that the main objective of the Europeans was to assimilate the Native Americans into European culture by way of education. Europeans justified their conquest of the Indians because they believed they had a divine purpose to convert them to Christianity. Also Europeans believed they could “redeem the savages” in much the same way the Roman Empire had conquered and civilized the rest of Europe.

Indians did not come to be viewed as inherently different in regards to color until the mid-eighteenth century and the label “red” was not used until the mid-nineteenth century. Some causes of the changing perception were an increase of Europeans, bloody conflicts and atrocities, codification of laws designed to control Native peoples, and the view of Europeans began to unify as being “white.”

The changing perception of Indians also caused a change in how Europeans dealt with them. In the beginning, Europeans intermarried with them, and used teachers and missionaries to convert them to European culture and religion. Later, education ceased and Europeans moved to subjugate the Indians through displacement on reservations and by war/genocide.

The Dawes Act of 1877 reverted back to assimilation of the Indians through education and the practice of farming. The reservation lands were divided up into individual sections for private ownership. Also the federal government came to believe that educating the Indian children would be the quickest and most effective manner to destroy Indian lifestyles. Boarding schools were established for Indian children to teach them American values and customs, while eroding their Native American beliefs.

At first contact, Europeans believed Indians could be assimilated into European culture. Then they shifted to the removal and reservation policy. In the late 1800s, Americans returned to assimilationist policies, and in the 20th century Indians have struggled to resist total assimilation by striving to maintain their cultural and religious beliefs.


Hurtado, Albert, Peter Iverson, and Thomas Paterson, editors. Major Problems in American Indian History: Documents and Essays. Houghton Mifflin Company Collegiate Division, 2000.

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History and Origins of Pole Dancing

This has been around a lot longer than many of us would think, but how did pole dancing originate and where did come from? The form of pole dance we know today and its origins can be traced back to exotic performance dance arts.

The first recorded striptease dates back to a myth from ancient Sumerian times involving Inanna, the Goddess of Love, and her descent into the underworld to find her lover Damouz. At each of the seven gates, she removed an article of clothing or a piece of jewellery. As long as Inanna remained in hell, the earth was barren. When she returned, the earth again became abundant and fruitful. Some believe this myth evolved in the ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’ of Salome from the bible.

The bible records Salome’s dance but the first mention of removing veils rises from Oscar Wilde’s play of ‘Salome’ in 1883. Some have claimed this to be the origin of modern striptease, but other influences may have come from Parisian times and the Moulin Rouge striptease through to Middle Eastern belly dancing and American burlesque.

Today many women learn the arts of Belly Dancing and dancing with Veils. Belly Dancing has been carried over from these legendary events. The skill have traveled from ancient Sumeria and into the Asia counties. It is understood to have been picked up by the gypsies who brought Belly Dancing through Europe.

The ancient Middle Eastern belly dance was thought to induce fertility in women and to strengthen their bodies in preparation for childbirth.

Throughout history there have been many forms of dance emerging. Many formed from sensual roots and bringing with them much controversy.

Another sensual form of dance, Rumba, is a dance of enticement and teasing. The tango originated in brothels of ancient Argentina. ‘Gouchos’ would arrive after working in the fields and the girls would entice them into going upstairs through dancing with their heads turned slightly to avoid the smell.

In the early 1900s the strip tease dance was added to burlesques shows to entice men to return. These featured famous strippers including Gypsy Lee Rose. Traveling tent shows had strip tease acts. The smaller tent dancers started to use the pole in the tent’s centre to dance around. These tents became known as the dance pole tents.

Another idea of where pole dance actually started is linked to the Maypole. This Pagan ritual was seen by some as a phallic symbol which may explain why some link it to the pole dancing we know now.

The earliest recorded pole dance was in 1968 with a performance by Belle Jangles at Mugwump strip joint in Oregon.

Today’s pole dancing craze is believed to have started in Canada in the 1980’s in exotic table dancing and lap dance clubs. Fawnia Mondey, originally from Canada, is one of the worlds first pole dancing champions. During the 1990’s Fawnia started teaching pole dancing to every day women. She produced the very first instructional pole dancing DVD.

Pole dancing quickly spread to the US followed by the rest of the world, helped by multi corporations such as Spearmint Rhino. Pole dancing is recognized throughout the world including Europe, Australia and even parts of China.

Lap dancing clubs in the UK grew in 1990’s featuring pole dancing on stage. Since 2000 onwards pole dancing has become more acceptable by the general public.

Pole dancing as we know it today involves dancing around a vertical pole. The old ancient strip tease became a forerunner to the modern updated variation. Pole dancing provides a display of acrobatics and strength, combined with a combination of sensual, flowing, feminine dance movements to form the art of pole dancing we now know and recognize.

The modern form of pole dancing has only been documented since the 1980’s, yet the origins appear to go back many years prior to this. Only in recent years has pole dancing become more acceptable. The stigma attached to this art may be one of the reasons why the dance appears to have little history documented and appears to have been ‘underground’ for many years.

Why Studying Geography Is Important

Geography is an often misunderstood subject, it focuses on developing skills beyond just knowing where individual countries and regions are, in fact Geography is the study of Earth, and our relationship to it.

This can lead to understanding more about our relationship with the environment, and the causes and effects of this relationship. We can discover how we can solve many of the ongoing problems we face today, like stabilizing both negative or high population growth, to creating more people- friendly and sustainable environments.

Building an understanding of the World around us, can help us create a better World, that can overcome the current issues we face today like Global warming, whilst help us understand how to bridge cultural and national misconceptions which can often lead to conflict. Students who study Geography can develop a better understanding on how our natural world works.

The future employment opportunities linked to this knowledge are immense, people can work in development work especially relating to the environment, or become enter the World of Science doing Geographical research on phenomena like Volcanic activity, Tsunami’s, and how we can discover and use the natural resources around us more efficiently without harming our natural environment.

According to data provided by the United Nations, the changes in weather patterns and the increase in populations in many areas of our World, are leading to a probable water crisis. The knowledge of how to manage our water resources are an important part of studying Geography, and helps teams of professionals who can access and implement solutions to our worsening water crisis.

Food security, and the ways we can nurture and work with Mother Nature to ensure future generations in our communities can have a more diverse and sustainable food supply, is another component of studying Geography, which helps produce more experts, who are needed in a World where many places still depend on outside sources of food.

Understanding the causes behind conflicts between countries is one part of Geography, because its often based on the lack of or the poor management of resources. Poor resource management, can affect many regions in the World, creating bad harvests, leading to hunger and sometimes even conflict between countries for the vital resources needed to sustain their populations.

Conflict resolution is a far better option than allowing countries to fall into protracted, and destructive wars over the resources needed to sustain their own population. This is one problem, where people knowledgeable about both human & physical Geography could help to stop.

A student today who gains a good knowledge of Geography, could tomorrow become an expert on renewable energies, city and town planning, resource management and sustainable agriculture. Given the immense problems many communities face today, these are skills needed for the future.

Understanding where countries and regions are is important, but Geography is about caring and working with our World, despite the differences every community has with its physical Geography, and cultural perceptions of the outside World. So if you really want to make a difference, or build a future career, studying Geography is a step towards this direction.