Why I believe it is important to study history

Why I believe it is important to study history

HY 1110, American History I

Columbia Southern University

Why I believe it is important to study history

I believe it is important to study history because that is where we come from. I read Peter Sterns article and it was very interesting. The very first line of the article hit me like a ton of bricks. I took my time to read the entire article, probably a lot longer than I should have but I kept going back to the first sentence. People live in the present (Sterns, 1998). This made me think why? Why do we only look at where we are now and where we are going? To me history is about where you came from, the choices you have made, the good, the bad and the in between. That is why I believe it is important to study history.

We are a sum of the choices we make. I have made plenty of good choice in my time. I have made probably just as many bad choices in my life. Looking back would I change any of these choices? The answer is a simple one, No. Those choices shaped me into who I am today and I love who I am. Those choices will help me make future choices that will hopefully make for a great future. Bringing it back to why we should study history, we should know where we come from, the choices that were made. The good choices, the bad choices and the in between, they shape who we are as a people and by knowing the choices that we have made hopefully we can learn to make better choices for the future.

Tribe Migrations

From the Unit 1 reading I read that the first peoples migrated to the Americas from Asia somewhere between 14,000 – 15,000 BC using a land bridge now known as Beringia that is long gone. Unlike later migrations from Europe to North America, these migrations were not conscious efforts to populate a new continent, but rather a simple pursuit of food and shelter – the basic necessities of life (What is Beringia?, 2013). Most tribes were nomadic and left very few records, mostly artifacts such as tools, weapons and markings.

The first tribes settled in what is now the American Northwest in the pre-colonized period, they consisted of hunter-gather and craftsman tribes. There were many resources from the land such as metals and other great offerings also great resources from the water and sea such as fish and whale oil. Later colonization of these lands would draw attention from other nations willing to brave the wilds to secure and share in the resources.

Several tribes used boating expeditions to migrate to the Southeast in what is now the American West, such as Clovis. These sites have some of the oldest native markings and permanent settlements. A few of the tribes that settled these lands are the Pueblo, Navajo, and Hopi. These tribes were wary of neighbors’ due to the need for wide open hunting area and limited resources. Spanish colonization in these regions would heavily influence these tribes.

Moving to the Northeastern part of Americas in what is now parts of Canada and the United States it is clear to see plenty of tribes migrated to this region. Two major tribes would emerge: the Algonquian and the Iroquois. Unlike the Southwestern tribes they were less nomadic due to being able to prosper as farmers. There is clear evidence the northeastern tribes did descend from the Clovis tribes, as can be seen from the tools and weapons that were used. The Algonquian regions would see the first English settlements, while the Iroquois lands would quickly become disputed territory between the new settlers and the tribes.

Lastly looking at the Southwestern tribe migrations these tribes had a lush and highly prized region due to its abundant natural resources and rich soil. The tribes in this area thrived on hunting and gathering similar to the Northwestern tribes. Some of the tribes in this region were the Cherokee, Creek, and Seminoles. These tribes would face some of the harshest treatments and removal from their lands in American history.

Quests for God, Gold and Glory

While reading through Unit 1 I learned about Spain and Europe’s first influences in the Americas. They traversed the oceans, seas, and lands in search of many things. Their main focuses were their quests for more money and wealth, spreading the teachings of the Catholic Church, and personal power and glory.

Looking early on in the European colonization, they too spread like the Native Americans migrants. However, unlike the latter they did not migrate for the need for food and resources but for the draw previously mentioned money, religion, and personal power. While the tribes prospered in the Americas, Europeans were dealing with constant issues of war and widespread disease. The 1400s started the era of innovation, invention, and learning. Successes in trade, influence in religion, and powerful leaders were motivated by these advances. Spain was the leader at this time in these traits, led Ferdinand and Isabella, would finance many of the voyages across the ocean to “discover” a new world while also looking for faster routes to trade with Eastern Asia.

Navigation was very helpful in traversing the Atlantic to explore new lands and find faster routes to Eastern Asia. In his time, Columbus was a brilliant navigator. He used his cutting-edge equipment to his advantage and would be first to explore the largely undeveloped Americas. It didn’t take long for the farming, mining and other resources of the American lands to become prized by the monarchs of Europe. Spain dominated the exploration and establishment of trade routes to and from the Americas through the 16th by successfully spreading it’s influence throughout the Americas. One way this was done was by spreading the Catholic faith.

Hernando de Soto, Hernan Cortes, and Amerigo Vespucci would leave their legacies in the Americas and in history by exploring, trading, spreading the Catholic faith and pursuing glory. They spread the Catholic word at every port that they entered. The pursuit the Europeans had for god, gold and glory had an everlasting effect on the Americas. Hernan Cortes eventually became very powerful fulfilling his pursuit for glory but would later in life be stripped of all power as a leader due to this he died soon after. The descendent generations continued to spread Spanish culture, including the Catholicism. This would later help shape future Americas.

Importance of Studying Early Tribes and Europe’s First Influences

After going over this unit I gained a great knowledge of the Native American tribes that I hadn’t previously had. It is important to not only know about the migration of the first peoples of the Americas and how they migrated from Eastern Asia due to the need of food and resources. It is interesting to see how they migrated from one region to the next leaving behind traces for future generations to find and study. It started with the basic need to have sustenance and shelter into the need to find a land where they could prosper and call their own. They would later go through turmoil with the European settlements and their needs of more power and thirsts for more land as well.

Reading about the early stages of European explorations of the Americas was interesting because it brought to light not only how the United States of America are now shaped but the world as a whole. Through Spain’s advances into the Americas you can see their search for better trade, more money, and power helped spread Catholicism. For me it was sad to see how they conquered and spread their religion in order to maintain control over their conquests. It is important to study the history of America so you can understand the significance of the events that happened.

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