ANT241 Lecture # 2
First impressions II (European documentation of and response to
Visual Images of Aboriginal Peoples
• 1500’s, (sixteenth century) – Literature developed during the
• Philip Ghoul – An artist who described the aboriginals as being
savages. In his painting “America” he showed a woman carrying
• Another German depicted the people of the islands as savages.
• Publishing’s in the early 17 century depicted the first contacts
with the aboriginals.
Aboriginal Views of Europeans
• Aboriginals wanted to know if Europeans were mortal or not, and
they tested this by throwing them in water. Europeans were not
familiar with swimming as much because they never gave it
priority, hence a vast majority of them drowned, this however
could’ve been fabricated because the aboriginals were rational
• This seemed to depict the savagery of the aboriginals.
Sources of Knowledge
• Eyewitness accounts or drawings. – They viewed everything from
a different perspective but still witnessed and had 1 hand
accounts on the aboriginals.
• Secondary woodcuts – Theodre De Bry published woodcuts on
accounts described to him by other eye witness, which is why
there were two different perspectives before the final output.
• Kidnapped natives and displayed them in Europe to show the
Europeans the “new” world. They would also force them to learn
the European languages and then taken back to translate their
own message to their own folk back. They were used to help
raise money for fundraisers and help the development of the new
world. The vast majority ended up in Europe in 16 century
because most of them were literally kidnapped. Only a few went
out of their own choice to explore Europe. They would be taken
on the deal that they’d be back the next summer, and in many
cases this never happened.
• 1503 Queen Isabella: The Spaniards came to the new world to
extend their fuel system. Natives would’ve been the work-force
for the Spaniards. West Indies was considered to be a province of
1 • Millions of aboriginals died of diseases during the 1 century
itself due to contact with the people from the “old” world. The
population had never been exposed to the diseases of the old
were for thousands of years. Flu Virus, which was very common
in the European world, was a death sentence to the aboriginals
because of virtually no resistance to the virus. Diseases had the
greatest impact on the aboriginals. It was assumed to be the
biological warfare of that time period. Small pox was
intentionally introduced in certain areas. Measles, small pox had
devastating impact on the Aboriginals.
• Slave Trade: Shipping the aboriginals as slaves to Europe, and it
was similar to importing slaves from Africa. Enslavement was
then restricted to Cannibals according to Queen Isabella, which
in those times meant the aboriginals. Imagery depicting the
aboriginals as cannibals was widely published anyway.
• 1513 King Ferdinand:
The document created was written in Spanish, and literally very
few natives could read and understand Spanish. It said “Indians
have to recognize the church, and the pope, and if they resisted
this, they’d be considered rebels and executed”. The aboriginals
had two choices. Convert to Catholicism or else be considered
rebel and be killed off.
• 1537 Pope Paul III: Issued a poll, statement or doctrine coming
form the pope himself. Indians were considered to be true men
who were capable of receiving catholic faith and were not brutes.
The churches finally regarded them as being humans and were
capable of being Catholics. Despite the pope’s decision, efforts to
enslave them and kidnap them continued. There were however
exceptions to this harsh attitude.
• 1550 Bartholome De Las Casas: Staunch protector of the
aboriginals. He was against the concept of treating the natives as
being inferior. He stated that they were misguided with their
beliefs. Even though he supported them, he couldn’t overcome
his European superiority.
• Tobacco Smoking: Savage or Civiliz