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The MuralThe 360 Degree View

Priest, conquistador and ship

While the Vikings, Egyptians, and other groups had visited other parts of the Americas several hundred years before, Christopher Columbus and the conquistadors were the first ones to explore the “new world” in depth and try to claim it as their own.

Christopher Columbus was a Genoese navigator who set out on a journey to find a new trade route from Spain to the Eastern countries. He left with a fleet of ships in 1492, and when he arrived at what we call the Americas, he thought he had landed in the Eastern lands he had set out to find.

When the Europeans heard about the New World Columbus had “discovered,” they envisioned lands of great riches. So they sent out armies of conquistadors (conquistadors-Spanish for “conquerors”) to take away the power from the people who were already living here-people Columbus called “Indians.”

Many of the people who came to the new world wanted to convert the native people to the Catholic religion. So priests were often sent from Europe with the conquistador armies to preach to the native people and teach them about the Church.

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Imagine that you are an explorer about to visit a new world you’ve never seen before. All you have heard is that there are strange people and new kinds of plants and animals. What would you take with you? How would you get there? What do you imagine that you’ll find?

Related Links:

Discoverers by Alphabet

Links and suggested further study from Education World

This site serves as a detailed guide through Native America.

Read More, Learn More:

Read about some of today’s explorers, from National Geographic

THE WEST is an eight-part documentary series which premiered on PBS stations in September 1996. This multimedia guided tour proceeds chapter-by-chapter through each episode in the series, offering selected documentary materials, archival images and commentary, as well as links to background information and other resources of the web site.