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Unit 2: How Trade and Travel Changed the World

Lesson H: Exploration and Contact in the Atlantic

Activity 5: New World Cultural Blending

Colonial empires were expanding through the Americas by 1550, and soon spanned much of North and South America. Colonial governments favored white Europeans over native populations, resulting in social classes that reflected theories of racial supremacy. Although some populations resisted colonial policies, the technology and diseases that accompanied European colonists strengthened their control of indigenous peoples.

Colonial policies led to permanent changes to native cultural customs and traditions. Much of the culture of native populations in the Americas was destroyed by colonization. However, there were also examples of cultural exchange between colonizers and indigenous peoples.

Cultural blending was seen in the relations between Native Americans and the Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese colonial populations that spanned the New World. Historians have used historical artifacts to uncover evidence of the blending in architecture, artwork, religion, and interracial relationships.

One specific case of cultural interaction is that of Spanish colonizers with both the Inca in present day Peru and Aztec in Mexico. You will examine cultural blending in the following Historical Investigation.


image of magnifying glass focusing on world history

Historical Investigation - New World Cultural Blending

Directions: For this activity, open the student resource titled "Historical Investigation - New World Cultural Blending." Use the documents to learn about the cultural blending between Spanish colonial and native populations in the Americas

  1. Download the Student Resource: Historical Investigation - New World Cultural Blending. (doc).
  2. Select the link to review the how to complete a Historical Investigation.
  3. Submit your answers to the completed historical investigation to your teacher as instructed.


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Use the information you learned in the Historical Investigation to complete the closing assignment for the lesson.