Prior to the “discovery” of what would become the United States, millions of people inhabited the land. Most of these native people organized into tribes and lived more in tune with nature than those that followed. The Europeans did not find the kind of civilizations they were familiar with or even the powerful empires of the Aztec or Incans, which may have made it easier for them to think of themselves as discovering the land rather than conquering it.
Questions to Consider: For hundreds of years, American education has glorified the explorers who “discovered” America while diminishing the role of the indigenous people. Why? Why is the recognition of indigenous people vital to an understanding of the development of the West? What good was brought by these explorers? What bad?