Native Americans and Europeans

Neil L. Whitehead

in The Oxford Handbook of the Atlantic World

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199210879
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191743467 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in History

 Native Americans and Europeans

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The first sustained encounters between Europeans and native peoples of America in the fifteenth century were temporally episodic and geographically uneven. The prevailing winds and currents across the Atlantic nonetheless pushed European shipping repeatedly towards northern South America and the Caribbean region, as in the first voyage of Christopher Columbus. From this initial zone of contact European expeditions ranged to the south and west, enumerating rivers and assessing opportunities for trade and plunder. Within a decade of Columbus' first landfall under the flag of Spain, Portuguese expeditions had reported on the coastal regions of Brazil, followed in the 1530s and 1540s by reports from expeditions into the river basins of the Amazon and Orinoco. The organisation of production within native economies was largely domestically based and kinship relations were the basis for the organisation of agriculture and hunting.

Keywords: Europeans; native peoples; America; Caribbean; expeditions; Brazil; Amazon; Orinoco; agriculture; hunting

Article.  7983 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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