Résendez on Culture and Hospitality

Today in most texts, Native Americans during colonial times are often either described as savages or innocent defenseless creatures who get slaughtered by the evil colonizers. In “A Land so Strange”, Résendez seems to argue that neither of these binaries accurately represents the native peoples through his analyses of the topic of hospitality of the native tribes. At first, De Vaca and his companions have very little contact with the natives. Sometimes the contact is positive and the natives exhibit lots of respect for the Spaniards, showing them nothing but hospitality. During other encounters the natives show no hospitality and openly attack the Spaniards. Later on in the novel, De Vaca joins a few different native tribes that exhibit varying levels of hospitality. It was also interesting that arguably the most hospitable tribe quickly became the least hospitable tribe. Through Résendez’s narration, the reader learns the motives behind the Native’s actions. Often the hospitable tribes had never seen white men before and had plenty to share while often the violent tribes had less to share or had had some form of contact with white men in the past. This narration shows the reader that “the natives” neither exhibited lots of hospitality toward the Spaniards nor none at all because you can’t speak about “the natives” as a cohesive group, it is different for different tribes.

While it is not directly stated, Résendez summarizes multiple encounters with native peoples that give the Spaniards a closer look at native cultures and compares those cultures to the Spaniards cultures. Through this comparison of cultures we learn that while the native cultures were very different from the Spanish culture, some similarities existed. The most important example of a similarity between the native culture and the Spanish culture is slavery. Social hierarchies existed in native cultures and those hierarchies varied from clan to clan but no matter what culture you look at, slaves were at the bottom of the social pyramid.

Though I concede that native cultures had their faults and that some native clans were very aggressive towards the Spaniards, I still insist that the fault always lay with Spaniards. The Spaniards came into a new land that they knew nothing about where other people had been living for thousands of years, declared that the land was theirs and that all of the native inhabitants were savages and lesser beings. I think that to an extent Résendez acknowledged this, but his descriptions of aggression of native tribes almost seemed to justify the actions of the colonizers which I do not condone.

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