School Improvement in Maryland
Clarifications: Each clarification provides an explanation of an indicator/objective to help teachers better understand the skills and/or concepts.

Standard 5.0 History

Topic A. Individuals and Societies Change Over Time

Indicator 1. Analyze the chronology and significance of key historical events during the age of European exploration

Objective b. Evaluate the results of the interactions between European explorers and native peoples


Interactions between European explorers and native peoples had positive and negative consequences for both groups, but, on the whole, Native Americans suffered dramatically from European exploration. Although North American native peoples did not endure the level of violence and exploitation experienced by native peoples facing the Spanish in Central and South America, their lives were transformed by contact with Europeans as many traditional elements of their culture disappeared.

The most significant result of these early interactions was the exchange of diseases. Both Europeans and Native Americans suffered from exposure to diseases to which they had no immunity, but the effects were especially devastating for native peoples. Epidemics of smallpox, chickenpox, measles, influenza, and other diseases killed millions of Native Americans, frequently wiping out entire villages. Consequently, native peoples were often too weak and too few in number to oppose European intrusions and settlement.

Native peoples and Europeans also exchanged plant and animal life. Europeans introduced to the New World larger domesticated livestock such as horses and cattle, while Native Americans introduced Europe to vegetable crops such as corn, beans, and squash. The introduction of the horse transformed the culture of the Plains Indians, and the introduction of tobacco had similarly important consequences for Europeans in both the Old World and the New.

Trade relations between Europeans and Native Americans were also important. From Europeans, Native Americans acquired woven cloth and metal goods, such as pots and knives. The introduction of the gun profoundly changed native warfare and hunting. By acquiring European goods, Native Americans could make parts of their lives easier and gain an advantage over other native peoples. Europeans were primarily interested in exchanging their manufactured goods for beaver pelts. In many cases, this trade relationship benefited both parties and formed the foundation of strong, friendly relations between Native Americans and Europeans. Some native people, however, became so focused on beaver trapping and other trade activities that they abandoned important other elements of their traditional economy and had to depend on trade with other native peoples for food and other basic needs.

Resources for Objective 5.A.1.b: