Impacts of European Settlement on Indian Population

The Indians population lived on North America’s North coast peacefully before the settlement of European natives in their land. Indigenous tribes in the region practiced agricultural activities in the region and lived in strong social structures confined with strong cultural traditions (Reyhner & Eder, 2017). The indigenous tribes of the North East were comprised of two major groups; Iroquoian and Algonquian speakers(Reyhner & Eder, 2017). These indigenous tribes were the first tribes to interact with and extend contact with European colonizers.

Algonquian speakers and Iroquoian differed in their characteristics. The Algonquian was composed of the majority of the population and occupied the coast side of North America. These speakers lived in socially and economically stable villages; they practiced fishing and farming.  On the other hand, the Iroquoian speakers lived inland in smaller villages (Schillaci & Kopris, 2017). Smaller villages formed a confederacy which eased the process of governance. Iroquoian economic activities were farming and hunting wild animals such as birds. Iroquoian speakers were war-like and often could raid the Algonquian speakers.


The two speakers had a democratic form of governance, and decisions were made communally, and women could also participate in decision-making. Social structures also existed where cultural traditions were practiced. Roles and duties were clearly defined when women were responsible for the internal management of the community. Men were responsible for hunting, fishing, and the protection of the community.

 The arrival of Europeans changed Native American’s ways of life and intensified conflict between European and indigenous tribes in North America (Koch, Brierley, Maslin & Lewis, 2019). The mass change was felt with the settlement of Europeans on the Indians populations of North America. The relationship between European settlers and Native Americans was constrained and was characterized by hostility and misunderstanding. European settlers brought with them new changes which affected the cultural, political, religious, and economic aspects of the life of the Native Americans. For instance, the Europeans and Native Americans could not agree on land ownership. According to Native Americans, the land was held for the common good of the community. This contradicted Europeans who viewed land as private property. Europeans occupied Native Americans’ land, fenced it barred others from utilizing the land.

 Europeans also altered with spiritual beliefs and religion of Native Americans. Native Americans had strong spiritual beliefs, including creation myths, and believed in a supernatural being called the creator (Bird, 2014). They also had other gods who dealt with disasters, suffering, and death. Europeans did not believe in these religious beliefs and opted for a change of these beliefs, which they considered oppressive. Native Americans were reluctant to change their beliefs, resulting in religious differences between the European and Native Americans.

Additionally, the settlement of Europeans in Native American land led to the introduction of diseases in North America (Price, 2016). Europeans brought deadly diseases to North America, such as smallpox. Native Americans had no immunity to many diseases, making them vulnerable while the old and the young people suffered most(Price, 2016). These diseases resulted in many natives, and Europeans’ death took advantage of this and dominated Native American territory. The loss of life of many natives triggered bitterness among Native American tribes and engaged in wars to fight off Europeans whom they viewed as bad omens.

Besides diseases, Europeans also introduced new plants and medicine in Native American territories. Europeans introduced new plants such as tobacco which became a valuable export among Native Americans. Other plants which they introduced included sugar, herbs, seeds, and roots. Apart from plants, they also introduced medicine which was made from herbs. Europeans had vast knowhow of plants; thus, they applied that knowledge to make medicine from herbs.

European settlement in North American also triggered wars. Native Americans were bitter with Europeans dominance in their land. To dismiss them from their land, they used wars and violence. Pequot tribes mobilized and trigged Pequot wars (Reyhner & Eder, 2017). Pequot viewed Europeans as intruders that needed to be repelled off from their territories. Pequot wars with Europeans resulted in the death of many Native Americans until Europeans conquered as they faced less opposition as these wars wiped many Native Americans.

Europeans used different means to conquer Indians and establish their dominance in North America. Europeans believed that Native Americans could not allow them to settle in their land without using force. Colonization of Native Americans was the option to silence them and establish dominance in their land.  They had to use different means like wars and diseases to wipe off Native Americans and reduce resistance. Colonization destroyed many ecosystems, brought new tribes to North America by eliminating others. Therefore, Indians needed to be conquered to pave the way for Europeans dominance in their land.

Knowledge of Native American values is of great importance to society in the 21st century. Native American cultures and traditions have influenced many American ways of life, such as governance, law systems, art, and music. For instance, Indians’ skill of using clay to mold pottery has been adopted by many Americans to make porcelains and other potteries. This has boosted the art industry in America. Additionally, knowledge of Native American history has helped the U.S. government inform the government and formulating laws and policies. U.S government borrowed the idea of the federal government where certain powers are given to the central government, and the state exercises all other powers. This form of leadership was adopted from the Iroquoian tribe who exercised federal governance.

Besides, governance knowledge of Native American culture has instilled the essence of preservation of plants and animals to conserve the environment. Native Americans preserved every aspect of life by avoiding killing an animal not meant for food (Tanner, 2008). They hunted only to supplement their diets.  Preservation of the environment is still practiced today where heavy punishment is enforced on individuals who engage in poaching of animals. Consequently, Americans have borrowed skills of farming from the natives, such as their farming methods.

In conclusion, the settlement of Europeans in North America impacted heavily on Native Americans. These changes affected the Natives positively and negatively.  For instance, Europeans interfered with Native cultures and religious practices. They also introduced diseases that triggered wars and resulted in death, thus wiping off many Natives, paving the way for European dominance in their territories. Native American cultures are still of importance to date, where the U.S government has borrowed systems of governance from the Iroquoian tribe.


Bird, S. (2014). Indigenous Peoples’ Life Stories: Voices of ancient knowledge. Alternative: An International Journal Of Indigenous Peoples, 10(4), 376-391. doi: 10.1177/1

Koch, A., Brierley, C., Maslin, M., & Lewis, S. (2019). Earth system impacts of the European arrival and Great Dying in the Americas after 1492. Quaternary Science Reviews, 207, 13-36. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2018.12.00417718011401000405

Price, M. (2016). European diseases left a genetic mark on Native Americans. Science. doi: 10.1126/science.aal0382

Reyhner, J., & Eder, J. (2017). American Indian Education, 2nd Edition (2nd ed.). library of congress.

Schillaci, M., Kopris, C., Wichmann, S., & Dewar, G. (2017). Linguistic Clues to Iroquoian Prehistory. Journal Of Anthropological Research, 73(3), 448-485. doi: 10.1086/693055

Tanner, A. (2008). Native Americans and the Environment: Perspectives on the Ecological Indian. Ethnohistory, 55(2), 337-339. doi: 10.1215/00141801-2007-068