Early assumptions about Native American cultures and religions played a large role in justifying the reformation of Indians' ways of life. Assumptions made by the Spaniards included that Indians lacked morality, ethics, reason, and political institutions, and were therefore ripe for colonization and evangelization. These assumptions in turn influenced scholarship on indigenous groups over history that often created false stereotypes of a generalized Indian, who actually came from a background of richly diversified societies, cultures, and religious traditions. By noting the various assumptions about Native Americans before and during Spanish rule, I will attempt to challenge those assumptions and uncover a deeper truth about the Indians and their diverse lifestyles that have been distorted throughout American history.
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