Christopher Columbus’ treatment of the Native Americans Historians and the general public alike have posed the question; how could so few Spanish could have conquered such a huge territory and so many people? By 1550, within a few decades of Columbus’ arrival on Caribbean shores, the Spanish had conquered and colonized vast tracts of the Americas more than ten times larger than Spain itself and an estimated 200,000 or more Native Americans. The answers to this question vary over time, and are dependent on personal perspective. There is no doubt that Columbus’ treatment of the Native Americans in the lands he claimed for Spain, as well as the nature of the indigenous people largely affected the ability of the Spanish to conquer these lands and their people. In January of 1492 Christopher Columbus obtained the support of Queen Elizabeth and Ferdinand, after his request for financial backing had been rejected twice.
On August 3rd , 1942 Columbus set sail on the Tinto river in southern Spain with a fleet of three ships –the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria- On a mission to discover the Indies. Columbus’ stumbled upon the “New World” on October 12, 1492. Columbus was greeted on arrival by a native tribe of the Bahama Islands , the Arawaks . “A PEOPLE’S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES by Howard Zinn P.1” Columbus later wrote of the Arawks in his logs saying “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” .
This early log is indicative of Columbus’ intentions from the moment of his first encounter with Americas indigenous peoples. http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/zinncol1.html Columbus also wrote: “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.” http://www.indio.net/aymaco/slaughter.htm
In his 1542 book “A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies” Dominican friar, Bartolom de Las Casas writes of his graphic firsthand accounts of Columbus ‘ treatment of the Native Americans in Hispanola ” They forced their way into native settlements, slaughtering everyone they found there, including small children, old men, pregnant women, and even women who had just given birth. They hacked them to pieces, slicing open their bellies with their swords as though they were so many sheep herded into a pen. They even laid wagers on whether they could manage to slice a man in two at a stroke, or cut an individual’s head from his body, or disembowel him with a single blow of their axes. They grabbed suckling infants by the feet and, ripping them from their mothers’ breasts, dashed them headlong against the rocks.
Others, laughing and joking all the while, threw them over their shoulders into a river, shouting: ‘Wriggle, you little perisher.”, ” Some they chose to keep alive and simply cut their wrists, leaving their hands dangling, saying to them: ‘Take this letter’ — meaning that their sorry condition would as a warning to those hiding in the hills.” His accounts of these atrocities give insight to the treatment that the Native Americans were subjected to under the rule of Columbus and the Spanish Conquistadors. http://www.pbs.org/kcet/when-worlds-collide/people/bartolome-de-las-casas.html After returning to Spain De Las Casas stated “everything perpetrated on the Indians in these Indies was unjust and tyrannical.” During the Columbian Exchange many infectious diseases were brought from Spain to the Americas; such as “Black Board “Columbian Exchange Module” the bubonic plague, smallpox, malaria, typhoid, and many more. The Native Americans, having never been exposed to these illness’ had no immunity to them.
These diseases spread exceptionally fast because the Natives were forced to work in close proximity in mines and field’s . Between these horrific acts of violence and wide spread epidemic of disease an estimated 95% Of the initial Native American population was wiped out during the Spanish conquest. It is estimated that of the 100,000-200,000 Native Americans inhabiting Hati when Columbus arrived in 1492, only 300 Indians remained by 1570. The Aztec population of Central Mexico was estimated at 25.3 million in 1519 and was reduced to only 1 million by 1605. The slaughter and exploitation of the Aztec was the single greatest loss of life in the history of the world, exponentially higher than that of the holocaust.A