The Black Legend, Native Americans, and Spaniards: Crash Course US History #1
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The Black Legend, Native Americans, and Spaniards: Crash Course US History #1


Hi I’m John Green, and this is Crash Course U.S. History! No, Stan. That’s not gonna work, actually. I mean, we’re 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! In fact, we’re going to call this whole show “U.S. History” but inevitably it is 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. So to begin U.S. history, we’re not going to talk about the United states or this guy. We’re going to talk about the people who lived here before any Europeans showed up. North America was home to a great variety of people so it’s difficult to generalize, but here’s what we can say: One, when the Europeans arrived there were no classical-style civilizations with monumental architecture and empires like the Aztec or the Incas. And two, native North Americans had no metalwork, no gun powder, 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, or I mean at least primitive.>>”Primitive” is a funny word, me from the past, because it implies a romanticization — these simple people who never used more than they needed and had no use for guns. And it also implies an infantilization. It’s like you believe just because you have a 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 we’re moving forward as 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 the very pinnacle of human-ness, 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 US 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. As many of you have pointed out, “decimation”
means 1 in 10. This was much worse than that. It was closer maybe to 8 in 10,
which would be an “octicimation.” So there had been civilizations in North
America but they peaked before the Europeans arrived. The Zuni and Hopi
civilization roundabout here peaked about 1200 CE. They had large, multiple-family dwellings and 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. Eut complex civilizations weren’t the rule in North
America. And now we’re 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 1000 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 a nuclear weapons or the incessant international meddling or
Latvians– Okay, it was nothing like NATO, actually. Religion usually involved a
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 Blackhawk, 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. 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 became members of their mother’s 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 European saw the Indians as paragons of physical
beauty and innocent of Europeans’ worst characteristics. 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 León 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, ahh. I can taste all 23 flavors.
There were many more Spanish explorers in the first half of the 16th century
including one Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, who wandered through the American Southwest looking for gold, which I mentioned 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. So the Spanish wanted to
colonize Florida to set up military bases to thwart the pirates who preyed
on silver-laden Spanish galleons coming out of México. But Spanish missionaries
also came over hoping to convert local native populations. This of course worked
out magnificently. Just kidding, it went terribly. 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-y. 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 México. You couldn’t really say
that it flourished since Santa Fe’s population never got much above 3,000, but it had a great
small-town feel. New México 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
the Spanish. But nothing unites like a common enemy, and in 1680 a religious
leader named Popé organized an uprising to drive the Spaniards out.
Popé organized about 2,000 warriors, who killed 400 Spanish colonists and
forced the rest to leave Santa Fe. So the Spanish colony in New México was
effectively destroyed. The Pueblos tore down all the Christian churches and
replaced them with kivas (their places of worship), but like most awesome
uprisings it didn’t last. 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 an 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. Okay, what do we have here?
“The Indians were 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 grasping 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. Okay, so the
mystery document is always a primary source, and since the writer refers to
“our Spaniards” I’m going to guess that he or she (probably he) is European and a
Spaniards sympathetic to the Indians, which narrows the list of suspects
considerably. So it probably wasn’t de Sepúlveda 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
Bartolomé de las Casas. Ah, dang it! Stan just told me I have the author right but the book
wrong. It’s “A History of the Indies.” Oh, I hate shocks, both literal and
metaphorical. So we 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 implied or 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 of the
U.S. coming onto the scene so late in the game, historically speaking, But every
story we hear comes from a certain point of view. And we always need to remember
who is speaking, why they are speaking, and especially which voices go unheard
and why. Thanks for watching. I’ll see you next week.
Crash Course is produced and directed by Stan Muller. Our script supervisor is
Meredith Danko. The associate producer is Danica Johnson. The show is written by my
high school history teacher Raoul Meyer and myself, and our graphics team is
Thought Bubble. If you have questions about today’s
video you should ask them in comments. Everybody who works on Crash Course as
well as a team of historians will be there to answer them. Thanks for watching.
Please make sure you’re subscribed to Crash Course. And as we say in my
hometown, don’t forget to be awesome.

100 Comments

  • Heidi Howe

    CrashCourse, LOVE your Woody Guthrie quote! I teach lots of Woody Guthrie tunes to my students. 🙂 And I appreciate the videos!

  • Name Again

    How can you do a crash course of this time period without mentioning the Africans that were present during this entire time??

  • Helene Nebiwa

    the Spanish were terrorist since they killed people in the name of Christianity
    The Arabs are terrorists becouse they kill people in the name of Islam
    People who kill do not have a religion they are killers who do not believe in the power of God and all they do is damage the public image of the religion they claim they follow
    So generalizing that all Christians are terrorists or that all Muslims are is an act of ignorance
    And to fix that problem you need to search
    I challenge anyone to get me I verse of the Quran that encourages violence and killing
    So please stop this nonsense of calling Muslims terrorists because they are not

  • Raja Sheraz

    Cant, you narrate in a bit slower pace in the first place? Seems to be in a race with someone then. maybe some other YouTuber. A little Awkward isn't it.

  • Grizzly BƎAR

    What about the Hopewell Mound Builders? They had Civilizations that stretched from southern Canada through the Midwest as well as the entire North American east coast. They had numerous cities that rivaled the meso-American cities in size and population.

  • Ellia Crase

    can a former apush student give me some tips? i have a unit test tomorrow and it covers 5 chapters spanning from the beginning of the world to around 1775

  • CapKolarov

    Funny to see how many viewers are here for stuying purposes when this guy is a complete idiot, manipulated and more a misinformer than a true historian. You know nothing about what you are talking about. Huh, I wonder how much you were paid for this biased, crappy video. Good day, and I recommend you to look for a better job to you… politician or something like that.

  • Mya zzstu Kim

    For some reason I can't seem to understand where John Green is looking XD He doesn't seem to be looking straight at the camera but he doesn't seem to be looking away from it either

  • Cole Crump

    In high school I hated teachers making me watch you, in college you’re my first choice go to – to actually learn a topic my professors can’t explain to me. Thank you @John Green, and I’m sorry for not appreciating you in high school. You’re a life saver

  • Pedro pepe

    This is not history, this is propaganda. Not acknowledging the huge improvements in native Americans life and so on just to say they killed everybody. Man go to each side of the border and see how native people are in each side and realize you have been fed the black legend.

  • Rocco Lucio

    You a bad historian, based on the black legend how hilarious is that. Spaniards we're the protectorate of Natives in the United States. Bartolomeo de las casa was tyrann and traitor to Spain.

  • jeff rohe

    My dad (who’s account I’m using) said I’d get in trouble if I watched anything other than Adam Norris.

    APUSH IS HARD DAD! IF IT HELPS ME GET AN A I’M WATCHING IT!

  • Luedman YT

    La población indígena de norteamericano fue aniquilada por los ingleses, a comparación con lo que hicieron los españoles…. Los ingleses son unos asesinos y mentirosos, algún día renaceran las Aspas de Borgoña.

  • Dmitry Tsatskin

    I don’t watch this for APUSH. I even don’t know what is it. Could anyone advise any book written in the way like this video? His speed of speech is too fast for foreign guys)))

  • Antonio Perales del Hierro

    @Enrique Galea Outón 🌿 Obviamente te metes con tercos. 🌿✌Antonio Perales del Hierro-Valdés🚩™

  • Curtiss Smith

    Race is not the issue but let’s talk Truth Black People was Here first In America History and Timing Wrong they hide the Truth and given you Lies. These Indians was all Black

  • Curtiss Smith

    History is {His-Story} who ever telling you theirs side ❓
    We are subliminal programming to mindset to promote lies they covered up the Truth using word wizardry also changes timelines and events that never happened they removed people and landmarks from their original areas Facts Black People was Here first History Proof Scientifical proof The Black Indians was Here first. One of the 12 Tribes of Israel. Christopher Columbus using KJV APOCRYPHA to find and track the rest of the Tribes Back to Africa.AFRICANS Sold GODS REAL JEWS into SLAVERY Deuteronomy 28:64) we see history books filled with pictures of people will lighten skin so your eyes can perceive it to believe it This is whitewashing false advertising again. These Black Children of God was Raped Hanged Traumatizes & Terrorized Whipped.strip them from their God Change their names and stripping them from serving God into serving them this is Wicked with out bias

  • laureano rodriguez

    Were the spanish brutal with the indians?, well in the whole history of the world the conquest were always bloody but, Spain was always a denfender of the native american people. The british historian John Elliot in his book "Empires Of The Atlantic World" Says tha the meetings at Valladolid and the Laws Of Burgos, Both summoned to legislate in favor of the indian people , were something very strange in the europeans empires.Cristofer Colombus was enjailed for killing indians. Francisco De Vitoria, Batolome De Las Casas, Pedro De Aguado and Antonio De Montesinos, they all assumed that the indians had rights to live, to be free, to be educated and to have a family. and they belived that the convertions had to be willingly. they are the precursor of Humans Rights.
    How 200 men took so many land? easy, they got allies, the tlaxcalan helped the spanish against the aztecs, THE DEVIL, Hernan Cortez had a son with an indian called Malinche, also he died in misrery, the reason, he did not have permision to conquest . Pizarro had two mestizos sons, many spanish had sons with the natives. thats the reason of the etnic diversity in all Latin America (quechua is still spoken in Peru, Guarani in Paraguay and Mayan and Nauhlt in Mexico) . Pitifully De Las Casas overstated the numbers of native deads. then the Enemy of Spain, England, created the black lengend. also this empire conquered north america but in a diferent way, haven't you ask why arent so few indians in USA? for the sailors of the Mayflower the only good indian was the dead indian. and i haven't told you about the tasmanian in the XIX century, the british empire did not have a De Las Casa or a Montesinos.
    So in conclusion Spain was the only empire who asked itselves about the ethic of the conquest, and mixted with the inidians.

  • Rochelle Berenyi

    I know that Crash Course is an American channel, but it would be SO COOL if you could do a series or two on Canada! Canadian politics, government structure, history, etc. I'm sure that there are plenty of Canuks out there who enjoy this channel just as much as I do!

  • Curtiss Smith

    Yes NEGROS came over on slave Ships Remember the Negros is Igbos which is the Hebrews Remember Negros is Not Africans they sold Negros Facts But they give you their lies saying Africans Sold Africans which is not true The True History of America they lies saying Indians was Savages when they help the settlers planted food and how to survive. The Olmec was Here in America they left plenty more evidence than anyone and they was Black People they left Giant Negroid Statues Giant Negroid Heads Pyramids very rich Backgrounds Colossal today they don’t teach this in schools it’s 12 Tribes of Negros =Hebrews and Before Negros/Hebrews came over on Slave Ships one of the Tribes travel to a new world Turtle Island Which is United States today. Aztec Incas Olmec and Indians was All Black ..Renaissance was the time to whitewash everything they started Burning Buildings and Paintings also Destroyed All Black statues knocked off nose and lips changed names and told some white ppl they can be Indians for $5 Dollars Facts

  • TemplarClip

    “Now that tale, is true”…really? You are talking about the black legend, known for being intentionally written by dutch and english authors who never put their feet in the americas, for propaganda against the spanish catholics. And you still say its true?? I Am not even mentioning the “leyes de burgos” and that natives and mestizos had the right to own lands. Please edit this video or just put it down, otherwise american children watching this will just keep having the awful protestant distorted version of what really happened in colonial america

  • Joe Touchette

    Sorry. History is linear. We are immensely wiser about our world and ourselves than ANY people group previous to ours. And in one year I can say the same and it will still be true. In 100 years, they will be wiser still, Lord be willing.
    Oh, I bet that's your issue with linear progression – it is based in a Christian worldview.

  • berdaz

    I have watched videos of this channel before about topics I didn't know about. I didn't realize they could be as miss informative as this one. He does not explain the black legend. I am not even sure he knows what that is.

  • chief lucifer63

    ppl use youtube to study for college exams, no wonder the u.s. is ranked so much lower than other countries in education academics. 🤦🏻‍♂️

  • Fidel Lledin

    No American indians, American continent indians. Those are the natives. History is still changed, it's like blacks, they think they came here first than those who brought them to our continent.

  • Fidel Lledin

    The story should not be based on speculation and manipulation that gives an advantage to the country from where it is narrated ,,, Do not ignore the American continent. The others invited themselves to our continent.

  • EKB ASMR

    If you like John Green's History lessons like I do, you will probably like EKB ASMR geography videos.. The only difference is my videos are delivered in a calm, relaxing manner.. Lol. Tap on the link above my profile to visit!!

  • bla jones

    Please be careful even institutionally looking presentations have assumptions and possible mistakes. More likely 9 in 10 were killed by disease close to or inside of 100 to 150 years of Columbus. So what did the real America's look like. I argue that we don't know since the huge lack of archaeological evidence. Most information comes from these religious groups that enslaved or lived with natives and documented. Not a lot of evidence. Did you notice they skipped to EU time quick in the video. Also note please don't blanket culture. You saw the many many cultures they reference. Were they all this animistic – above and below religion. Isn't that the same huge assumptions the Europeans made?

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