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The pristine myth may have begun with Christopher Columbus upon his return to Spain after his first voyage. The lifestyle of the natives in the Caribbean region had made it seem like the original paradise to him. As reports of the discoveries in what was eventually seen as the New World filtered across Europe, there arose the idea that the New World was pristine, unlike the Europe that was close at hand. It became a favorite device of social criticism to hold aloft the pristine or innocent natives there as a mirror exposing the faults of Europeans. This same method of social criticism has been practiced in America and elsewhere in the New World.

The reality is that while undeveloped by European standards, the New World ...

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