The Social Impact Of The Spanish Conquest On The Indigenous Population That Occupied The Territory Of What Is Today Colombia

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The social impact of the Spanish conquest on the indigenous population that occupied the territory of what is today Colombia

In the Spanish conquest of the territory that today is called Colombia, the aboriginal population was severely affected in different social, cultural and economic aspects, which generated the uprooting of the traditions of the aborigines, since there was no one Recognition of the sociocultural difference that occurred between indigenous communities in front of that of the colonizers, forcing the native tribes to adopt a culture and rules totally different from what they were usually accustomed. This document will focus on social impact, therefore, what was the social impact of the Spanish conquest in the indigenous population that lived in the territory of what is today Colombia? The most serious social impact on the indigenous population was the decrease in the same aborigines, caused through the genocide that was caused by the Spaniards in order to have the domination of the territories and the enslavement of the natives, introducing a civilization based on Spanish traditions.

Before the arrival of the Spaniards in the Colombian territory there was an extensive population of American aborigines, with different traditions, knowledge and languages ​​of their own. In which there were three great cultures: the chibcha, the Caribbean and the Arwac. Those who during the Spanish conquest were affected, suffering a great impact on their social structure due to the strong clashes between the conquerors and their tribes, since the natives refused to be enslaved, responding with strong resistance to the attacks of the enemy.

The Chibcha family due to the dispersion of its tribes presented several ethnic referrals, among the most prominent were the muisis and the taironas, made up of extensive clans. Several clans formed a tribe and the head of the tribe were called: the chief. The union of different tribes that was led by the Zipa or the Zak. Additionally, this family had great intellectual advance and stood out with basic knowledge in mathematics; They developed a writing based on hieroglyphs and used a calendar that allowed them to handle agriculture, also based their culture on a matriarchal regime.

The Caribbean family, which, although they continued with the tendency to nomadism, occupied the Atlantic coast. They were an essentially warrior tribe; A characteristic that could be highlighted among unusual practices would be the anthropophagic behavior practiced with some of their enemies, it was they who presented the strongest resistance to the conquerors. They were characterized by being merchants. This clan just like Chibchas focused their diet on corn.

Native aborigines were part of a totally primitive continent, in which the diversity of languages ​​and adoration for different gods reigned, that is, they were polytheistic. Indigenous populations had a tendency to be polygons and their society was based on self-consumption; They had total freedom and enjoyed full knowledge of their territory. After the arrival in the Colombian territory, the colonizers saw the opportunity to take advantage of the great wealth offered The indigenous population caused by the diseases that the Spaniards themselves brought to the American continent, including epidemics of smallpox, syphilis and other conditions that caused the death of many natives, who did not possess the defenses to combat them. “For the year of 1492 they lived in what is currently Colombia, around 10 million natives and more than 250 different villages. After three centuries of continuous, 460 thousand aborigines survived ”. 

The genocide produced by the Spaniards favored the domination of the territory and additionally the submission of the natives to servitude and strong work through enslavement, in order to exploit the gold and silver mines, work the lands and provide personal services To the conquerors, which made the original culture into a merchandise. Therefore, colonial institutions such as distribution, parcel and mita were created, which formed the main forms of exploitation of aboriginal populations, which deprived the natives of their own identity with the separation of families, the dissolution of tribes and cultural change through the imposition of a civilization causing the uprooting of native traditions with the intention that Spanish culture will predominate.

The Spaniards understood that if they wanted to enslave the aborigines, they had to understand the orders, because of this the Spanish language was imposed and they were forbidden to speak in their native languages, so that those who were surprised communicating with an indigenous language were punished; Teaching the Spanish language through religion, which in addition to language imposed new ideas: it made them see nudity as something immoral; His polytheistic culture changed with the imposition of a single god, who had characteristics of Europeans (blue eyes, blond hair, pale skin), thus made the natives believe that they were inferior beings for their physiological features. The Catholic religion imposed through biblical mandates a control of the cradle to burial, that is, at birth; baptism and death; The extremeunciation. Religion represented a form of economic and ideological domain by the Spaniards, which brought with it the loss of freedom of natives in their own territory through the indoctrination of Spanish culture.

Through the indoctrinando of Christianity and the imposition of the language with the claim that the indigenous degree or intellectual and moral level imposed by Spanish culture. Causing the indigenous people to adopt a new system that implied deep changes in their culture and form of social and economic organization, making religion the main mechanism and way of subjecting the original people.

Genocide and slavery as a conquest tool by the Spaniards unleashed a strong indigenous resistance that was manifested through different historical facts: the destruction of their own strengths and cities; the forced displacement to the high mountains in the cold climates and soils considered unproductive for that time; The revenge that some indigenous people took against the atrocities performed by the conquerors, as was the case of the Gaitana Cacica, who after witnessing the death of their own son at the stake decided to take justice by their own hands and tear off the eyes to which the eyes to which the eyes to which He made such cruelty, walking his body through all the peoples of Huila; The decline of the indigenous population with the impossibility of reproduction voluntarily using concoctions that served to produce an intentional abortion, mostly being carried out among the couples of Indians, because in this way they prevented their children from being considered slaves at birth, since It was appreciated that they were ready to serve.

Despite the constant oppression, the continuous genocide and persecution of aboriginal culture, the indigenous people have resisted as history, have been able to preserve their culture and identity with a constant struggle to preserve their cultural memory. For two centuries we have managed to increase our population, today we are about 1.300.000 indigenous, 92 villages, with 64 own languages.

The impact of the colonization of the Spaniards towards the indigenous people was not only great if not disastrous because it results It could be negative, since they left us the beautiful Spanish language if they deprived us of liberty, peace and harmony that represents indigenous culture.

Although the indigenous peoples participated in the different processes of independence with the illusion of obtaining freedom, resuming their own “course” and returning to the lands that had been taken from the opposite happened, since after independence the slave system continued and the colonial .The indigenous people having participated in the construction of the Political Constitution of Colombia of 1991, their rights are not fully recognized, they seem that they are only statutes and codes embodied in a paper, which do not lead to compliance, which has generated that it has generated that The genocide of members of the indigenous communities is continued as expressed by the promulgation of the K Misak, of the Guambía Cabildo.


  • Crit, Indigenous Regional Council of Tolima 2007 ‘whatever we have left we will defend it to the last respite’, in ethnicity.
  • Espinoza, M (2007) Cultural Memory and the Continuous Genocide: The indigenous in Colombia. Antipoda, 5, 53-73
  • Colombia Informa (2015) Indigenous woman, resistance and struggles. Recovered from http: // www.Colombiainorma.Info/Woman-Indigena-Resistances-and-Luchas/
  • Marimon, c. (2006) Spanish in America: from the conquest to the colonial era. Alicante, Spain: Miguel de Cervantes Virtual Library. Recovered from http: // www.Cervantes
  • s.a., s.F., This is Colombia, History First settlers, recovered from: http: // wsp.presidency.GOV.CO/ASISTCOLOMBIA/ASISTCOLOMBIA.HTML.

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