The right or condition of self-government, especially in a particular sphere.(Ex. The Mississippian culture of the lower Midwest was the Cahokian culture; Incas (Peru), Mayans (Central America), and Aztecs (Mexico) created sophisticate civillizations (Machu Pichu))

Atlantic Seaboard

An area of the Eastern United States along the Atlantic Ocean(Ex. The 13 original British colonies down to Mexico and South America)

Caste System

A class structure that is determinded by birth; if one's parents are poor, by birth, they are also going to be poor(Ex. English royalty > Gentry > Citizens > Indentured Servants > Slaves)

Columbian Exchange

A wide spread Trans Atlantic exchange of animals, plants, culture, human population, disease, technology and ideas betwen the colonists and Native Americans(Ex. guns, horses, smallpox, Christianity, and sugar)

Cultural Preservation

The protection of culture through activities that minimize the tradition and prevent loss of customs(Ex. Native Americans' resistance to Christianity)


Movement of populations and cohorts of people(Ex. Spain (1492); England (1497-98); France (1524) were all migrations to North America)


A wide-spread occurrence of disease in a community at a particular time(Ex. smallpox, yellow fever, and malaria)


Make full use of and derive benefit from(Ex. Colonists utilizing natural resources; lumber, minerals like gold and silver, or fertile fields)


Make an action or process easy or easier(Ex. Mariner's compass created easier navigation, Encomienda system gave Spanish easier control over the natives, and guns granted Spanish conquistadors better control over natives)

Gener Roles

Determine how males and females should economically interact within the context of society(Ex. Patriarchal society; women were domestic laborers while males hunted, fished, gathered fuel, and cleared fields for planting)


A mass of races mixed together (Ex. Mestizo culture)

Linguistic Adaptation

Patterns of behavior which enable a person to cope with the surrounding languages(Ex. Mayan and Nahuatl were Native American languages)

Natural Resources

Materials or substances such as minerals, forests, water, and fertile land that occur in nature and can be used for economic gain(Ex. Gold and Silver)

Plantation based

Usually based on mass production; involves the use of slave labor(Ex. Sugar plantations in the West Indies)

Social Diversification

Social variety and social differences that exist in the world, a society, or an institution(Ex. The marriage between Spanish men and Native Americans created Mexico's Mestizo culture)


To bring under control; enslave(Ex. First Native Americans were taken advantage of and later Africans were enslaved)


Continuing for an extended period or without interruption(Ex. European exploration, conquest, and Christianization of the New World)

Maize Cultivation

The production and distribution of corn, known at this time as Maize. The crop itself was grown from present day Mexico to the now American southwest. Through this cultivation economic development and social diversification was fostered.

Hunter- Gatherer economy

An economy based upon the practice of hunting animals and gathering herbs and berries to survive. This practice was used in the societies of the Northwest and what would be California. Unlike maize this type of society didn't foster development of culture and rather was more subsistence based form of economy.

West Africa

The source of much of the slave labor in the Early Spanish, Portuguese, and British Colonies. Through the slave trade African Families were taken and sold as property in Southern Slave Markets. The controlling power within the states of Ghana, Sierra Leone, Gambia, and Western and Eastern Nigeria (West Africa) was Britain, though the traders of the Spanish and Portuguese reached these colonies and began to exploit natural resources and recruit slaves for the Americas.

Western Hemisphere

Driven by their thirst for land and economic power, the European culture extended its reach to the Western Hemisphere across the Atlantic beginning in the 15th and 16th centuries. This included the countries of North America as well as parts of South America.

Plantation- Based Agriculture

An economy based upon the practice of plantation farming. Within the Spanish colonies, the Encomienda system exploited American Indian labor to support the extraction of precious metals and other exonomic resources. Examples of crops farmed under this system would be sugar and silver. Later in the period the British Colonies used African slave labor to sustain large plantations creating tobacco, indigo, and rice.


A shirt from the feudalistic, monarchy based society that existed in Europe during the period prior to the 15th century. Capitalism was catlyzed by the newly created economy and profits from the Americans. The new sources of wealth in the Americas allowed for the shirt to capitalism. Capitalism is at its core a society based on a free market in which people and companies can buy and sell each other's products for money.

Cultural Autonomy

The rights and customs of a culture. Notably, the Native Peoples of the Americas vs. the outside influence of the Spanish. The Spanish undermined the Native Americans both socially and economically through assimilation into their faith by the mission system.

Great Basin

A region that includesparts of Oregon, washington, Idaho, Nevada, and Colorado. The lack of natural resources allowed a hunter- gatherer lifestyle. Native Americans habitation has been found to be dated to over 10,000 years ago.

Agricultural Economy

Differing from a hunter- gather economy, agricultural economies included a permanent residence rather than a mobile lifestyle. Around 5000 B.C. the Aztec and Incan civilizations depended heavily on agricultural economies. Corn was by far the most prevalent crop of the time.

Spanish Exploration

Intimidated by the Portuguese, Spain strove to tap the new source of wealth of India. The Spanish monarchs permitted Christopher Columbus to embark on a mission of open ocean sea travel, unlike the Portuguese routes around the southern tip of Africa. Spanish Conquistadors later strove to find wealth and find a source of slave labor in the Americas, bringing religion, foreign culture, and disease.

Encomienda System

Allowed government to "commend" or give Indians to certain colonists in return for the promise to try to convert them to Christianity. Spanish missionary Botolome de las Casas thought the system was "a moral pestilence invented by Satan". The system justified the enslavement of Indians under the Christian Faith.

Empire Building

Colonists strove to gain wealth through the influence of European religion and economic systems. Conquistadores exploited the native people of the Americas in search of slave labor as well as the acuquistition of natural resources in the New World. Goods included gold, silver, corn, potatoes, beans, chocolate, and more Main goals can be generalized by the saying, "God, glory, and gold".

White Supremacy

With the discovery of the native tribes of the Americas, many Europeans found their culture and society inferior. White supremacy also was some of the justification for the creation of the Encomienda System and labor systems like the slave trade.


A social system that existed in Europe during the Middle Ages in which people worked and fought for nobles who gave them use of land and protection in return for their service, a system that was supported by Thomas Hobbes social contract theory arguing for absolute authority; John Locke later challenged this structure with his support of the idea that government derives its "just powers from the consent of the governed

Political Autonomy

The capacity for governing oneself. The monarchical and tyrannical European systems of government that Thomas Hobbes supported were the opposite of political autonomy. This concept is a cornerstone of the theory of republican government.

Portuguese Exploration

First established colony in South America in what was later to be called Brazil. Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan became the first person to sail completely around the world. Portugal was the first nation to colonize North America, founding fishing outposts in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, Canada. The Portuguese and Spanish later exploited the natives of the Americas for economically profitable labor.

Slave Labor

First African slave in New World in 1501. Many European countries, most notably the Spanish, also enslaved Native Americans. The Spaniards Encomienda system used religious reasons to justify enslaving the natives. Later, Europeans enslaved Africans instead of Native Americans due to their traits that supported grueling manual labor under the hot sun.

Great Plains

A region of plains stretching from Canada down into Texas running through the Midwest of the United States. Many Indian tribes living on the Great Plains were nomadic, traveling to find the nearest packs of buffalo, their food source. The culture of the Great Plain Indians was intertwined with that of the Spanish as weapons, horses, and cultural views were exchanged.

Permanent Villages

A transition in certain Native American groups from being nomadic tribes to having sustained living situations in which their food source was constant and sustainable; planting and farming techniques allowed for this change in culture. Rather than voyaging long distances for resources, Native Americans would harvest resources from the surrounding environment based near a central location. maize cultivation was a major breakthrough that allowed permanent villages to form.