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  • Hi, I’m John Green and this is Crash Cours

  • Hi, I’m John Green and this is Crash Course U.S. History

  • no, Stan, that’s not gonna work actually.

  • I mean, were talking about the 16th century today,

  • when this was neither United nor States.

  • By the way, this globe reflects the fact that I believe

  • that Alaskan statehood is illegitimate. [Alaska: John's new Canada]

  • In fact, were gonna call this whole show “U.S. History,”

  • but inevitably it’s going to involve other parts of the world

  • and also, not to brag, a small part of the moon.

  • Sorry, we can be a little bit self- aggrandizing sometimes here in America.

  • [hello Libertage. you're exceptional]

  • So to begin U.S. History,

  • were not going to talk about the United States or this guy.

  • Were going to talk about the people who lived here before any Europeans showed up.

  • [BEST]

  • [intro music]

  • [intro music]

  • [intro music]

  • [intro music]

  • [EVER]

  • North America was home to a great variety of people,

  • so it’s difficult to generalize but here’s what we can say:

  • 1. When the Europeans arrived,

  • there were noclassical style civilizations

  • with monumental architecture and empires like the Aztec or the Incas;

  • And 2. Native north Americans had no metal work,

  • no gunpowder, no wheels, no written languages, and no domesticated animals.

  • However, they did have farming, complex social and political structures,

  • and widespread trade networks.

  • Mr. Green, Mr. Green!

  • So they were pretty backwards, huh? Well, I mean, or at least primitive.

  • Primitive is a funny word, Me from the Past,

  • because it implies a romanticization

  • the simple people who never used more than they needed and had no use for guns

  • and it also implies an infantalization.

  • It’s like you believe that just because you have an beeper and they didn’t,

  • they were somehow less evolved humans.

  • But you can’t see the human story as one that goes from primitive to civilized.

  • That’s not just Eurocentric; that’s contemporary-centric.

  • The idea that were movingforwardas

  • a species implies a linear progression

  • that just does not reflect the reality of life on this planet.

  • I get that you like to imagine yourself as the result of millennia of advancement

  • and very pinnacle of humanness. But from where I’m sitting,

  • that worldview is a lot more backwards than living without the wheel.

  • So no one knows exactly how many people lived in North America

  • before the Europeans got here.

  • Some estimates are as high as 75 million,

  • but in the present U.S. borders the guesses are between 2 and 10 million.

  • And like other Native Americans,

  • their populations were decimated by diseases, such as smallpox and influenza.

  • Actually, it was much worse than decimation.

  • Many of you [Stanimal] have pointed outdecimationmeans one in ten.

  • This was much worse than that.

  • It was closer maybe to eight in ten, which would be an oct-icimation.

  • So, there had been civilizations in North America,

  • but they peaked before the Europeans arrived.

  • The Zuni and Hopi civilization, roundabout here, peaked around 1200 CE.

  • They had large multiple family dwellings in canyons

  • which they probably left because of drought.

  • Crash Course World history fans will remember

  • that environmental degradation often causes the decline of civilizations

  • I’m looking at you, Indus Valley, and also you, Entire Future Earth.

  • But complex civilizations weren’t the rule in North America.

  • And now were about to begin generalizing,

  • a bad habit historians have,

  • partly because there’s a limited historical record

  • But also because Eurocentric historians have a bad habit of

  • primitivizing and simplifying others.

  • So I want to underscore that

  • there was huge diversity in the pre-Columbus American experience,

  • and that talking about someone who lived here in 1,000 BCE and

  • talking about someone who lived here 2,000 years later

  • is just inherently problematic.

  • That said, let’s go to the Thought Bubble.

  • Most Native groups in most places organized as tribes

  • and their lives were dominated by the natural resources available

  • where they lived.

  • So, west coast Indians primarily lived by fishing, gathering,

  • and hunting sea mammals.

  • Great plains Indians were often Buffalo hunters.

  • These tribal bands often united into loose confederacies or leagues,

  • the best known of which was probably the Iroquois Confederacy, also called

  • the Great League of Peace,

  • This was kind of like an upstate New York version of NATO,

  • but without nuclear weapons or the incessant international meddling

  • or Latvians.

  • Okay, it was nothing like NATO actually.

  • Religion usually involved the vibrant spiritual world

  • with ceremonies geared toward the tribe’s lifestyle;

  • hunting tribes focused on animals, agricultural tribes on good harvests.

  • And most Indian groups believed in a single Creator-god

  • who stood above all the other deities, but they weren’t monotheistic

  • in the way that Christians who came to the new world were.

  • American Indians also saw property very differently from Europeans.

  • To first peoples,

  • land was a common resource that village leaders could assign families to use

  • but not to own

  • and most land was seen as common to everyone.

  • As Black Hawk, a leader of the Sauk tribe said:

  • The Great Spirit gave it to his children to live upon and cultivate as far as

  • necessary for their subsistence; and so long as they occupy and cultivate it,

  • they have a right to the soil.”

  • Thanks, Thought Bubble.

  • So, many of us tend to romanticize

  • American Indians as being immune from greed and class,

  • but in fact there were class distinctions in Indian tribes.

  • Rulers tended to come from the same families, for instance.

  • That said, wealth was much more evenly distributed than it was in Europe.

  • And while most tribal leaders were men, many tribes were matrilineal,

  • meaning that children become members of their mothers family.

  • Also, women were often important religious leaders.

  • Women also often owned dwellings and tools

  • although not land because again that idea did not exist.

  • Also, in many tribes, women engaging in premarital skoodilypooping wasn’t taboo.

  • In general,

  • they were just much less obsessed with female chastity than Europeans were.

  • I mean, I will remind you, the first English settlement in America was called

  • Virginia.”

  • The idea that Native Americans were noble savages, somehow purer than Europeans,

  • and untouched by their vices is not a new one.

  • Like, some of the earliest Europeans saw the Indians as paragons of physical beauty

  • and innocent of European’s worst characteristics.

  • [as in orthodontia?]

  • But for most Europeans,

  • there was little noble about what they saw as pure Indian savagery.

  • I mean, Indians didn’t have writing, they suffered from the

  • terrible character flaw of being able to have sex without feeling ashamed,

  • and most importantly they weren’t Christians.

  • The Spanish were the first Europeans to explore this part of the world.

  • Juan Ponce de Leon arrived in what is now Florida in 1513

  • looking for gold and the fabled fountain of youth.

  • In 1521, he encountered a Calusa brave’s poison-tipped arrow

  • and died before discovering that the Fountain of Youth is, of course,

  • delicious Diet Dr. Pepper. Mmm, I can taste all 23 flavors.

  • There were many more Spanish explorers in the first half of the 16th century,

  • including one Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

  • who wandered through the American southwest looking for gold,

  • which I mention entirely because I think that guy’s last name means cow head.

  • Of course, none of these people found any gold,

  • but they did make later European colonization easier

  • by bringing over the microbes that wiped out most native populations.

  • [bam: BRIGHTSIDED]

  • So, the Spanish wanted to colonize Florida to set up military bases

  • to thwart the pirates [pirates!]

  • who preyed on silver-laden Spanish galleons coming out of Mexico.

  • But Spanish missionaries also came over,

  • hoping to convert local native populations.

  • This of course worked out magnificently.

  • Just kidding. It went terribly

  • and many of the missions were destroyed by an uprising of Guale Indians in 1597.

  • And I will remind you, mispronouncing things is my thing.

  • In general, colonizing Florida sucked, because it was hot and mosquito-ey.

  • [some things never change]

  • Spain was much more successful at colonizing the American Southwest.

  • In 1610, Spain established its first permanent settlement in the Southwest

  • at Santa Fe, New Mexico,

  • and you couldn’t really say that it flourished

  • since Santa Fe’s population never got much above 3000.

  • But it had a great small town feel.

  • New Mexico is really important because it’s the site

  • of the first large scale uprising by Native Americans against Europeans.

  • I mean, the native people, who the Spanish called Pueblos, had seen

  • their fortunes decline significantly since the arrival of Europeans.

  • How much decline?

  • Well, between 1600 and 1680,

  • their population went from about 60,000 to about 17,000.

  • Also, the Franciscan friars who came to convert the indigenous people,

  • became increasingly militant about stamping out all native religion.

  • The Spanish Inquisition just wasn’t very keen on

  • the kind of cultural blending that made early conversion efforts successful.

  • So, while the Spanish saw all the Pueblos as one people,

  • they also knew there were tribal differences that made it difficult

  • for the Indians to unite and rise up against Spanish.

  • But nothing unites like a common enemy, and in 1680,

  • a religious leader called Pope organized an uprising to drive the Spaniards out.

  • Pope organized about 2000 warriors who killed 400 Spanish colonists

  • and forced the rest to leave Santa Fe.

  • So, the Spanish colony in New Mexico was effectively destroyed.

  • The Pueblos tore down all the Christian churches and replaced them withkivas,”

  • their places of worship.

  • But, like most awesome uprisings, it didn’t last.

  • But after the revolt,

  • the Spanish were much more tolerant of indigenous religion

  • and they also abandoned the forced labor practice called encomienda.

  • Oh, it’s time for the new Crash Course feature

  • the Mystery Document?

  • How mysterious.

  • The rules here are simple.

  • I read and attempt to identify the mystery document.

  • If I am right, I do not get shocked by this shock pen.

  • And if I am wrong, I do. [NOT a simulation]

  • Okay. What do we have here?

  • The Indianswere totally deprived of their freedom

  • and were put in the harshest, fiercest most horrible servitude and captivity

  • which no one who has not seen it can understand.

  • Even beasts enjoy more freedom when they are allowed to graze in the fields.

  • But our Spaniards gave no such opportunity to Indians and

  • truly considered them perpetual slaves

  • I sometimes came upon dead bodies on my way, and upon others

  • who were gasping and moaning in their death agony repeating,

  • Hungry, hungry.”

  • And this was the freedom,

  • the good treatment and the Christianity the Indians received.”

  • Well, that’s nice. [cheese Louise, that's dark]

  • Okay, so the mystery document is always a primary source

  • and since the writer refers toOurSpaniards,

  • I’m gonna guess that he or she- probably he-

  • is European.

  • And a Spaniard sympathetic to the Indians,

  • which narrows the list of suspects considerably.

  • So, it probably wasn’t de Sepulveda, for instance,

  • who argued that the Indians might not even be human.

  • Okay, Stan,

  • I’m actually pretty confident here.

  • I believe it is from

  • A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies by Bartolome de las Casas.

  • No? DANG IT!

  • Stan just told me I have the author right, but the book wrong.

  • It’s A History of the Indies.

  • Ugh, I hate shocks, both literal and metaphorical.

  • Gah!

  • So weve focused a lot on the brutality of the Spanish toward the Indians.

  • But at least one Spaniard, de las Casas, recognized that his countrymen were

  • terrible.

  • This realization is a good thing obviously,

  • but it leads us to one of the big problems when it comes

  • to studying this time and place.

  • The Black Legend is the tale that the Spanish unleashed

  • unspeakable cruelty on the Indians.

  • Now that tale is true.

  • But, that idea was used by later settlers,

  • especially the English to justify their own settlements.

  • Like, part of the reason they needed to expand their empire was to

  • save the Indians from the awful Spanish.

  • But were the English so much better?

  • Yeah, probably not.

  • As we mentioned at the beginning of today’s episode,

  • American Indians didn’t have writing,

  • so we don’t have records of their perspective.

  • Now, some Europeans, like de las Casas, were critical of the Spaniards,

  • but most considered the Indians heathens, and impliedor even outright said

  • that they deserved whatever horrible things befell them.

  • So, at the beginning of our series,

  • I want to point out something that we need to remember throughout.

  • One of the great things about American history is that

  • we have a lot of written sources

  • this is the advantage </