The arrogance and cruelty of European powers towards "lesser" peoples during the age of exploration and colonisation is probably my biggest peeve when it comes to human history.

I have an idea for a pulpy fantasy setting, sort of a mix of steampunk, Indiana Jones and really early sci-fi adventures, where the miracle substance powering airships and the like is sound in an expy of South America. The imperialistic monarchies of not-Europe naturally want to roll in and take it... except generation of exposure to the stuff has made the natives superhuman.

So they are technologically at the Stone Age but can still slaughter invaders, and the monarchies are forced to... you know... make deals with the locals. They get to establish outposts where they can mine and set up communities, but venturing beyond the boundaries will result in Bad Stuff.

Stuffy, arrogant, upper class officers would fume at having to bow to the demands of "half naked savages" but be helpless to do anything else.

My intrepid protagonists would be forced to pass through the jungle at one point, and only survive the experience by being very respectful.

I would give the setting this feature basically for my personal catharsis, but how might other folks take it?