A classic study of early contact between European explorers and North American natives. When the two cultures met in the fifteenth century, it meant great upheavals for the Amerindians, but strengthened the Europeans' move toward nation-states and capitalism.
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In the Myth of the Savage, Olive P. Dickason explores Europe's response to the richly varied spectrum of Amerindian societies during the late fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Renaissance Europeans assessed New World information in the light of Christian orthodoxy and practical political ideology, using the concept of savagery to explain the New World peoples. Many myths about the New World circulated throughout Europe and influenced Europe's approach to the Americas. Remolding Amerindian culture to European standards absorbed the energies of officials, missionaries, and soldiers, creating upheavals in cultural and political landscapes for the Amerindians.
Dr. Dickason examines the early contacts between Amerindians and explorers, the variety of societies in the New World, the development of European beliefs and attitudes towards Amerindians, the origins of the concept of "l'homme sauvage", relations between the Amerindians and early colonists and missionaries, and the outcome of colonization of the New World. Drawings and maps by early explorers and colonists also propagated the myths and Dr. Dickason has extensively used illustrations to emphasize Europe's concept of the New World.About the Author:
When I first met Canadian history, as a student in a convent school in the outskirts of Winnipeg, it was generally accepted that Canada was a large new country with little history. In the words of William Lyon Mackenzie King in 1936, when he was Liberal Prime Minister, "if some countries have too much history, we have too much geography." History was perceived as a written discipine, which in the case of Canada meant that it began with the arrival of writing---i.e, Europeans. It wasn't until I discovered that I had Metis ancestry that I began to wonder about Canada before Europeans. As I learned more about that distant and too-often ignored past, my country took on a whole new aspect. Exploring its history became a personal quest, all the more focussed because the heritage of my mixed ancestry had been reinforced during my adolescent years by living on the land in Manitoba's north, hunting and trapping. It was through a series of lucky breaks that I was able to go to university, at Father Athol Murray's Notre Dame College in Wilcox, SK, from there to become a journalist and finally, after being blessed with more good fortune, a professor of history at the University of Alberta. Although now retired, I am still passionate about researching and writing the Aboriginal aspect of Canadian history.
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