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Essay: Why We Shouldn’t Celebrate Columbus Day: Honoring Native Genocide and Slavery

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Schools all across America celebrate Columbus day. Kids are often taught the catchy phrase “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” He supposedly discovered America and many honor him for this “heroic” actions.  We are constantly indoctrinated by lies because the truth is too inconvenient for most. No one pays attention to the ugly truth of Christopher Columbus. Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer. He was born in Genoa, Italy (1451- 1506) As a teen he worked on a merchant ship and sailed for the portuguese.  Columbus shipwrecked off the Portuguese Coast in 1476. He wanted to sail to India, Japan, and China to find silks and spices. He proposed to the kings of Portugal, France, and England for funding of his Voyage to India. He got turned down multiple times, but eventually convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to sponsor his journey. The crown conducted a contract that declared Columbus would get 10% of whatever goods he found on his voyage. He began his voyage August 3rd, 1492. When he eventually reached land in the Bahamas, the Arawak natives offered peace and wanted to trade. He unnecessarily enslaved the Natives and claimed the land as his own. He forced Indians to collect gold or else there would be the punishment of death. In my opinion, he contributed to the greater decline of human race because he brought unnecessary harm among natives, started slave trade, spread mass genocide, and Influenced violent conversion tactics.

October 12th, 1492, Columbus arrived to what now is called the Bahamas. He observed the natives and recorded the experience and his thoughts in his journal “They … brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things. They willingly traded everything they owned They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane. … They would make fine servants. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts.” (Source: E. G. Bourne, ed., The Northmen, Columbus and Cabot (New York, 1906).

Right away, columbus knew he wanted two things, to enslave people and collect as much gold as possible.

Columbus would command the Natives to give immense amount of gold to the Spanish or face upon death. If a Native worker didn’t satisfy Columbus’s needs for gold he would cut off the workers hands and tie them around their neck.  If slaves tried to escape he would cut off  body parts and even burn them alive. Bartolome De Las Casas (One of columbus’s men) was horrified by the cruel torture that Christopher Columbus brought upon natives. He was completely mortified and stopped working for Columbus. De Las Casas confirmed that Christopher Columbus cut legs off children, raped, and murdered thousands of natives.  “Such inhumanities and barbarisms were committed in my sight as no age can parallel,” (Source: In defense of the Indians: The defense of the most reverend lord, Don Fray, Bartolome De Las Casas)

Christopher kidnapped a carib women and sold her to one of his crew members to rape. One of his fellow crew members recorded this in his notebook. “While I was in the boat, I captured a very beautiful woman, whom the Lord Admiral [Columbus] gave to me. When I had taken her to my cabin she was naked — as was their custom. I was filled with a desire to take my pleasure with her and attempted to satisfy my desire. She was unwilling, and so treated me with her nails that I wished I had never begun. I then took a piece of rope and whipped her soundly, and she let forth such incredible screams that you would not have believed your ears. Eventually we came to such terms, I assure you, that you would have thought she had been brought up in a school for whores.” (Source: Carl Lehrburger, Michele da Cuneo, Secrets of Ancient America)

He also sold young girls into sexual slavery. He wrote in a letter to Dona Juana de la Torre. “A hundred castellanoes are as easily obtained for a women, as for a farm. And it is very general and there are plenty of dealers that are looking young girls girls. Those from ages nine to ten, are now in demand, and for all ages a good price must be paid.” (Source: John Boyd Thacher, Christopher Columbus: His life, His works, His remains, Letter to the Nurse)

Columbus was was demanded to spread christianity in the New World and influenced violent conversion tactics. The violent tactics were similar to his other punishments such as cutting limbs off and any sort of physical torture.  Over 50,000 indians committed mass suicide because they refused to convert to christianity. Many years after Columbus’s voyage, 500 out of 30,000 Indians remained in Hispaniola. He basically wiped out 90% of the Native population in hopes of wealth and power.

Why should we celebrate a tyrant who brought nothing but sadness to the world?  Many would describe him as a “ruthless risk taker,” the inconvenient truth is that he was a murderer. The worst part is that the Natives were generous and peaceful. He destroyed all happiness and peace among the Natives. Many are still debating this topic today because it is still relevant to our lives. Our history and understanding of life matters. Honoring a day in October for some genocidal dictator is completly mortifying. Columbus Day should be wiped off all Calendars and replaced with “Indigenous peoples Day.” To honor the peace and community they brought to the world.

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