Acosta chose to discuss one of most difficult problems posed by American continent, such as origin of Native Americans. Since sixteenth century, European and Spanish intellectuals had proposed several different theories for presence of people in the continent unknown to Ancients, and disturbingly not evident in the bible. In spite of their variety, these theories shared a similar concern to include American people in master native of the European, and particularly Biblical chronology.
The lost Israel tribes, ancient inhabitants of the Atlantis, and pre-Roman Iberians were argued as original settlers of New World. The solution of Acosta to this puzzle was not based upon interpretations of the Ancient texts, or far-fetched etymologies like those connecting Biblical Kingdom of the Ophir to Peru. However, Acosta proposed reasonable and highly speculative theory that Native Americans might have migrated from Asia through a land bridge or through short navigation. Even though Acosta theory was influential, people like Hugo Grotius, who attacked land-bridge theory challenged it in seventeenth century. Acosta’s theory discussed plausible explanation for presence Native American inhabitants, but it did not give satisfactory account on why the problematic presence of the American fauna is different from that of Old world. Land-bridge theory allowed Acosta to provide historical ground to claim he argued theologically in the DeProcuranda, that apparent differences in intellectual abilities among various individuals were result of historical reasons, but not constitutional deficiency on part of Native Americans. As people moved from original cultural centers that Acosta located in Mediterranean shores for biblical and historical reasons, they lost main features that in European view defined the civilized cultures, like urban life, existence of religious cults, utilization of alphabetic writing, and political organization. In De Procuranda, Acosta used these featured to suggest a descendant arrangement in which each non-European society could fit.
In first tier, Acosta located the nations that fulfilled the requisites outlined above, but they had non-alphabetic writing like Japanese and Chinese. In the middle level, Acosta placed people that presented the political organization without writing. According to Acosta, the Inca empires and Aztec belonged to this category. The lowest tier was set aside for groups with no apparent political organization, which commonly led a nomadic life style. From the concept of Asian origins of Native American people, Acosta explained different degrees of the civilization he identified during his missionary exposition simply as an outcome of successive migratory impressions from an original point. The Acosta three-tiered classifications can in fact be read spatially as Eastward move from limits of Judeo-Christian ancient world. Japanese and Chinese cultures, were closer to original center, and retained most of the features than the Amerindian civilizations. The later incapacity to understand the truth of Christian message was according to Acosta an outcome of human history, the function of what Acosta perceived as the cultural involution, coming from a lengthy migration period, and Amerindians subsequent isolation from Mediterranean centers of culture.
Acosta’s account was scientific, systematic, geographic account of Americas. However, land bridge theory advanced by Acosta had no empirical evidence and it was developed against theological background. The land bridge between North America and Asia existed during last ice age was strongly supported by the geological evidence. The grounding for land bridge theory was that inhabitants of America must have been the descendants of Eve and Adam, and probably there was connection to the human origins in “Old World.”
The importance of understanding the document and the context is that some rumors about the origin of the Indians may be proven wrong. There have been a lot of speculations about the origin of the Indians. Some speculated that the Indians were among the lost tribes of Israel. Others believed they were the descendants of Phoenician wanderers after the destruction of Atlantis. After the destruction of the Atlantis there was a huge disperse of the survivors to many parts of the world and it was believed that some of them made it to the east coast of the Americas. This study dispels all these speculations and by bringing to light the identity of the Indians. With this insightful document, we are able to study the American history that informs us on who we are. Knowing the origin of the inhabitants of America, especially, the Indians, gives the student an eye opener into a past that has been riddled with speculations and uncertainty of the American history.
To the reader, the most important idea to remember is the idea of Jose De Acosta’s strategy of attempting to the ancient world and reconciling it with the modern world to bring out the true origins of the Indians in America. Equally, I would like the reader to take note that the earlier speculations about the origin of the native Indians of America were not the descendants of the Atlantis as has been widely speculated. This is important in that history is brought close to the lime light and made clear to any seeking mind on the history of America.