In history, Native Americans were always stereotyped and misrepresented as one ethnic group. Indians were first introduced to Europeans when Christopher Columbus came across their land. After discovering the new world, there rose a significant genocide of the natives, and they were assumed to be brutal barbarians, just because Columbus perceived them in that manner. This savage nature towards the natives led to their cruel treatment from Columbus's men as they faced executions without trial and got violently beaten. Thus, Columbus's attitude toward the inhabitants of the new world influenced how they were treated.
Columbus believed that he had discovered the islands although it was already inhabited. Columbus's assumption that he was the one who found the land meant that it would be easy for him and his men to conquer the people on behalf of the Queen and King of Spain. The report states that "the inhabitants were quite giving of their possessions, that they could even exchange valuable items for things that had little value" (Columbus par.6) As a result, his army traded hawk's bells and glass beads for items of value such as javelin and cotton thread. Columbus was so violent, proud, and arrogant. He commanded the natives to submit to him, enslaved them, and killed anyone who challenged him.
Apart from declaring his momentous discovery, Columbus's report gives his assumptions towards the native's lack of arms and culture, claiming that "they are destitute of weapons, that are entirely unknown to them, and for which are not adapted, since they are timid and full of terror" (Columbus Par. 15) Assuming that the natives are timid, fearful, honest, unintelligent, and with no religion, he claims that Spain could easily conquer the land, forcing the natives to adapt to the Christianity doctrine and love the people of Spain together with their queen. Columbus did not have any intentions of protecting the natives or helping them benefit from European culture. He believed they were foolish and unable to be independent and perceived them to be another resource he could exploit.
Columbus was and continues to be contradictory in his opinions and discovery of the island. Even though he discovered the land, he never got to his destination. Columbus had a passion for sailing. Beginning from his initial trip, he took his power and ownership to an exaggerated level. Additionally, Columbus's letter to Spain reporting his discovery of the new world intrigues my thoughts. The later was supposed to be re-counting the exploration of a new territory that was only known to the natives, although there seems to be some controversy to it. I feel that he uses different tones to confuse the king and queen and not make it look like the island was better than Spain - just the thought of it could be treason. Columbus might have used some tactics to save himself by comparing the island to Spain. "The land is majestic and divine, and relates to Spain's beauty in May" (Columbus par. 4). The true intentions of Columbus were to capture gold and send the natives to Spain as slaves, yet he claimed to be in good terms with the new world to the extent that they were engaging in barter trade.
Generally, Columbus's attitude toward the inhabitants influenced how his men treated them during their initial visit as well as their plans for the future of the island and its people. Right from their first interaction, he had the native domination in mind. From his attitudes and cruelty towards the natives, I do not think Columbus Day is not worth to be celebrated since it honors slavery. It is with no doubt that Columbus is responsible for the first slave trade.
Christopher Columbus. "Letter to King Ferdinand Of Spain, Describing the Results of the First Voyage." Xroads.virginia.edu. 1493. Web. 23 Sept. 2019. http://xroads.virginia.edu/~hyper/hns/garden/columbus.html
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