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6.3 Indigenous Responses to Imperialism

7 min readjanuary 15, 2023

Eric Beckman

Eric Beckman

Riya Patel

Riya Patel


AP World History: Modern 🌍

577 resources
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Introduction

Indigenous responses to imperialism during the period of 1750-1900 varied widely depending on the specific group of people and the imperial power they were interacting with. Some indigenous peoples, such as those in the Americas, were forced to move to reservations or killed outright by invading European colonizers. Others, such as those in Africa, were enslaved or forced to work on European-owned plantations. Still, others, such as those in Australia, were forced to assimilate into European-dominated societies. Some indigenous peoples fought back against imperialism through armed resistance, while others used diplomatic means to try to protect their land and way of life. In some cases, indigenous peoples formed alliances with imperial powers in order to resist other imperial powers. Overall, the responses of indigenous peoples to imperialism during this period were diverse and varied in their effectiveness.

Native Complaints Against Imperialism

During the second wave of imperialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many indigenous peoples had grievances against the imperial powers who sought to expand their control over their land and resources. Some of the common grievances of native peoples during this time period include:
  1. Land Loss: Many indigenous peoples were displaced from their traditional lands as imperial powers claimed them for their own use or to make way for settlers.
  2. Exploitation of Resources: Imperial powers often exploited the natural resources on indigenous lands without regard for the welfare of the native peoples or the environment.
  3. Cultural and Religious Suppression: Imperial powers often sought to assimilate indigenous peoples into their own culture and religion, which led to the suppression of traditional customs and beliefs.
  4. Economic Exploitation: Indigenous peoples were often forced to work on European-owned plantations, mines and other industrial projects at low wages or no wages at all.
  5. Political Oppression: Imperial powers often denied indigenous peoples the right to self-rule and imposed their own systems of government on them, often with little regard for their rights and needs.
  6. Physical violence and genocide: Imperial powers committed large scale physical violence and genocide against native population which lead to loss of lives and cultural heritage.
Overall, the second wave of imperialism brought significant negative impacts to the lives and livelihoods of the indigenous peoples, whose grievances were often ignored or dismissed by the imperial powers.

Anti-Imperial Movements

There were several types of anti-imperial nationalist movements that emerged during the period of imperialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Some of the most common types include:
  1. Political Nationalism: This type of nationalism movement focused on achieving self-government or independence for a particular nation or group of people. Political nationalists often sought to establish their own government and create a separate state for their people.
  2. Cultural Nationalism: This type of nationalist movement focused on preserving and promoting the cultural heritage and traditions of a particular group of people. Cultural nationalists often sought to protect their language, religion, and customs from the influences of imperial powers.
  3. Economic Nationalism: This type of nationalist movement focused on achieving economic self-sufficiency and independence for a particular nation or group of people. Economic nationalists often sought to establish their own industries and protect their economy from foreign domination.
  4. Social Nationalism: This type of nationalism movement focused on achieving social and political equality for a particular nation or group of people. Social nationalists often sought to address issues such as poverty, discrimination, and inequality within their society.
  5. Non-violent nationalism: This type of nationalist movement focused on achieving independence and self-rule through peaceful means such as diplomacy, education and propaganda.
  6. Armed Nationalism: This type of nationalist movement focused on achieving independence and self-rule through armed resistance against imperial powers.
Each of these types of anti-imperial nationalist movements varied in their tactics, goals, and level of success. Some were able to achieve independence and self-rule while others were suppressed by imperial powers.

Direct Resistance

Direct resistance refers to the active, physical opposition to imperial rule by indigenous peoples or colonized subjects. It can take many forms, including armed rebellion, guerrilla warfare, sabotage, and civil disobedience.

Yaa Asantewaa War

The Yaa Asantewaa War was a conflict fought in the Ashanti Empire (now part of Ghana) in 1900-1901. The Ashanti queen mother, Yaa Asantewaa, led the Ashanti army against British colonialism.

Tupac Amaru II

Tupac Amaru II was an 18th-century indigenous leader in Peru who led a rebellion against the Spanish colonial government in 1780. The rebellion was ultimately unsuccessful, but it did inspire other resistance movements in the region.

Indian Rebellion (1857)

The Indian Rebellion of 1857, also known as the Indian Mutiny or the Sepoy Mutiny, was a rebellion against British colonial rule in India. The rebellion began as a mutiny of sepoys, or Indian soldiers in the British East India Company's army, but it soon spread and involved large numbers of civilians. The rebellion was ultimately unsuccessful, but it did lead to significant changes in the way Britain governed India, including the transfer of power from the East India Company to the British Crown.

New State Formation

New state formation refers to the process of creating a new sovereign state, usually through political independence or separation from an existing state. This can happen through a variety of means, such as through peaceful negotiation, secession, or war.

Sokoto Caliphate

The Sokoto Caliphate was a West African Islamic state that existed in the late 19th century in what is now Nigeria. It was founded by Usman dan Fodio, a religious leader who led a jihad, or holy war, to establish an Islamic state in the region. The Sokoto Caliphate was one of the largest and most powerful states in West Africa at the time, and it played an important role in the region's history.

Zulu Kingdom

The Zulu Kingdom was a powerful state in southern Africa that existed in the 19th century. It was founded by Shaka, a military leader who built a strong and centralized state through a series of military conquests. The Zulu Kingdom was known for its fierce warriors and its highly organized military structure. It played a significant role in the history of southern Africa, and its legacy continues to be felt in the region today.

Cherokee Nation

The Cherokee Nation was a sovereign nation of the Cherokee people that existed in the southeastern United States, prior to the Indian Removal Act of 1830. The Nation was one of the largest Indian tribes in the South and had a complex political, social and economic systems. The Nation was forced to move to Indian Territory during the Trail of Tears, this led to the decline of the Nation and the loss of their land. The Cherokees have since re-established their Nation and have become one of the most successful federally recognized tribes in the United States.

Rebellions Based on Religion

The Ghost Dance

The Ghost Dance was a religious movement that emerged among some Native American tribes in the late 19th century. The Ghost Dance was based on the belief that if the Native people performed the dance, the spirits of their ancestors would return, the Europeans would disappear, and the land would be restored to its original condition. The movement spread rapidly among many tribes, but the US government saw it as a threat to their authority and suppressed it.

Xhosa Cattle-Killing Movement

The Xhosa Cattle-Killing Movement was a religious movement that emerged among the Xhosa people in southern Africa in the late 19th century. The movement was based on the belief that if the Xhosa people killed all of their cattle and destroyed their crops, the spirits of their ancestors would return and restore the land to its original condition. This would bring prosperity and end the suffering caused by the European colonization. The movement led to widespread famine and suffering among the Xhosa people, and it ultimately failed to achieve its goals. The movement was also seen as a threat by the colonial government and they suppressed it.

Mahdist Wars

The Mahdist Wars were a series of conflicts that took place in Sudan between 1881 and 1899, between the forces of the Mahdist state, led by Muhammad Ahmad, and the forces of the Ottoman Empire and the British Empire. Muhammad Ahmad, who claimed to be the "Mahdi" (or "Expected One"), a messianic figure in Islam, led a rebellion against the Ottoman-Egyptian rule in Sudan. The Mahdist forces were able to capture Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, and defeat the Egyptian army in 1885.
The British Empire, who had interests in Sudan, intervened in the conflict and defeated the Mahdist state in 1898, during the Battle of Omdurman, which was led by Lord Kitchener. The Mahdist Wars had a significant impact on the region, as it led to the death of many Sudanese, the loss of Sudan to the British Empire, and the end of the Mahdist state. The Mahdist Wars also had a significant impact on the region and the world, as it was one of the last major conflicts fought with traditional weapons and tactics, and it also marked the end of the Ottoman Empire’s expansion in Africa.

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