COLUMBUS’ LEGACY OF EXPLOITATION, ENSLAVEMENT AND EXTERMINATION
As I have done every year on this day over the past few years, I am re-posting my short “Columbus Day” history to promote awareness about the need to change this holiday to a national Indigenous Peoples Day. Progress has been made in a number of cities, but the need to have the name and the purpose of the holiday changed on a national level still exists. To celebrate the mythical legacy of Columbus as the “discoverer” of America is a national disgrace. The history that we were taught as children, and that still is being taught today is a blatant falsehood and an insult to all Native Americans. The information here within was gleaned from various sources. All of it is substantiated. I will not now and will never celebrate a holiday honouring a criminal who was responsible for opening the flood gates of genocide and slavery in the Americas.
There are those who celebrate today, the actual day of Columbus’ landing and one of the many myths in American history, as a day of national pride. There is nothing to be proud about. Absolutely nothing. In 1492, Columbus “discovered” the Americas when on October 12th 1492 he sighted and probably landed on Watling Island in the Bahamas and subsequently several other islands in the Caribbean. The Arawak Indians inhabited these islands. The initial Arawak population was estimated at 8,000,000. By 1516 only around 12,000 were still alive. By 1542, less than 200 remained. By 1555, the Arawaks were all gone. The Holocaust of Columbus alone killed four million people on San Salvador in four years. The genocide did not stop after this first four million people; that was only the beginning.
Because of Columbus’s exaggerated report and promises from his first visit, his second expedition was given seventeen ships and more than twelve hundred men. The aim was clear: slaves and gold. They went from island to island in the Caribbean, taking Indians as captives. But as word spread of the Europeans’ intent they found more and more empty villages. On Haiti, they found that the sailors who were left behind at Fort Navidad had been killed in a battle with the Indians, after they had roamed the island in gangs looking for gold, taking women and children as slaves for sex and labor. When Columbus and his crew arrived on their second visit to Hispaniola, they took captive about two thousand local Taino villagers who had come out to greet them. One of the literate members of Columbus’s crew Miguel Cuneo wrote: “When our caravels were to leave for Spain, we gathered one thousand six hundred male and female persons of those Indians, and these we embarked in our caravels on February 17, 1495. For those who remained, we let it be known (to the Spaniards who manned the island’s fort) in the vicinity that anyone who wanted to take some of them could do so, to the amount desired, which was done.” Cuneo further notes that he took a beautiful teenage Carib girl as his personal slave, a gift from Columbus himself, but that when he attempted to have sex with her, she “resisted with all her strength.” So, in his own words, he “thrashed her mercilessly and raped her.”
Columbus and his men also used the Taino as sex slaves: it was a common reward for Columbus’ men for him to present them with local women to rape. As he began exporting the Taino as slaves to other parts of the world, the sex-slave trade became an important part of the business, as Columbus wrote to a friend in 1500: “A hundred castellanoes (a Spanish coin) are as easily obtained for a woman as for a farm, and it is very general and there are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten (years old) are now in demand.”
Columbus, sexist pig, racist and seller of children for sex. Celebrate and be proud America…real proud…
A replica of Cristobal’s ship, which at the time was called La Gallega, sailing past the island of La Gomera, his last stop before embarking on his voyage of “discovery.” Photo taken in 1991 by the author.
Another of my blog posts, a poem called Cristobal On Gomera, can be seen here:
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