During contact with the Europeans, Aboriginals suffered many major setbacks. Many of these problems were due to the fact that Europeans had introduced new elements to their society, which they either could not handle physically or culturally. The most lethal introduction into Aboriginal society was diseases. Over time, people in Europe had built up immunities to diseases such as smallpox, diphtheria and scarlet fever. Aboriginals were not immune to these diseases and tried to deal with them in a very primitive fashion, and this led to the extinction of many groups across North America. Aboriginals also had to deal with alcohol and guns, which had not been seen by the Aboriginals until contact. Many Aboriginal cultures were based on spirituality, and the introduction of an addictive substance such as alcohol truly destroyed this basis. The arrival of guns also was costly for the Aboriginals as many who fought with much less developed weapons were easily killed by European settlers. Guns also led to the near extinction of the bison, and inadvertently led to the starving of many Aboriginals living along the plains.
In order for things to have been better for the Aboriginals, the Europeans should have done several things differently. First of all, the Europeans could have done a far better job trying to learn about the Aboriginal culture. Upon contact, Aboriginals were regarded as savages, and were therefore deemed as lesser and unimportant from a human standpoint to the Europeans. If Europeans had tried to become in touch with the spirituality of the Aboriginal culture, things probably would have become far easier. People would not have been hunted for sport, and there would be a lot more respect for what Aboriginal people were all about. There would also not have been such ruthless neglect for the well being of these people through the distribution of alcohol which completely ruined many cultures. If the Europeans had been able to learn the lessons of peace and spirituality which were a central theme in Aboriginal cultures, then many of the disasters which exist in communities today would be averted. The white man also could have been far more respectful of the reality that the Aboriginals were on the land first. The reality that the Europeans were going to settle here is obvious and many of us would not be able to live in this country today without that settlement. But, the Europeans could have just been more respectful to this claim by learning as much as they could and trying to live in a fashion that wouldn’t completely destroy the Aboriginal way of life as did happen. Instead of just killing as many Aboriginals as possible, we could have made an effort to settle in the same spots as them and develop our technology while using their ability to live off the land and treat the land with respect. If this had occurred then Canada and the United States would still be thriving but they would also be far more environmentally friendly.
In order for things to have worked upon contact, the Aboriginals should have shown more pride. This should have been shown in terms of how they as people were treated, and how the land was treated. This was the Aboriginal peoples’ land and they literally let the Europeans walk in and claim it as if they were never here. The Aboriginal people should have united across the country in order to ensure that they were not going to be robbed of their land completely. Once it became apparent that their land was going to be taken, the Aboriginals should have put up a greater fight for their lives. These Europeans had no claim to the land and had no right to be letting these Aboriginal people die. Unfortunately the Aboriginals did not do as much as they could in order for this to stop. They were too lenient in allowing themselves to be put into reserves as the white man settled on the land which they had inhabited for thousands of years. They let themselves become addicted to alcohol instead of trying to stop the Europeans. Many of the leaders realized what was going on and tried to stop the white man from taking over, but they could not create a united front which had the pride to stop the disaster which we live in today. The struggle will continue for a long time because of how these fundamental issues were dealt with at contact.