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Columbus Day

Christopher Columbus
Statue of Christopher Columbus*

On Columbus Day Americans celebrate the greatest waves of genocide of the Indians known in history.” Jack Weatherford American anthropologist

Columbus Day first became an official federal holiday in the United States in 1937. Since 1970, the holiday has been fixed to the second Monday in October. Columbus Day is also a legal holiday Puerto Rico and in the United States Virgin Islands, where it is celebrated as both Columbus Day and “Virgin Islands – Puerto Rico Friendship Day”

Three US state, Hawaii, Alaska, and South Dakota do not recognize Columbus Day at all.

“They are a very loving people and without covetousness,”…”They are adaptable for every purpose, and I declare to your Highnesses that there is not a better country nor a better people in the world than these.”…They are so ingenious and free with all they have that no one would believe it who has not seen it; of anything they possess, if it be asked of them, they never say no; on the contrary they invite you to share it and show as much love as if their hearts went with it…” Columbus from the ship’s log and in his diary concerning the Taino

Father Bartolomé de Las Casas, who wrote extensively about the Taino culture and their interaction with the Spanish invaders, sailed to the West Indies with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. The Spanish fleet also carried more than 1500 adventurers, former prisoners and ex soldiers with battle experience in the wars against the Moors of North Africa.

Father Las Casas wrote:

“…God made all the peoples of this area…open and as innocent as can be imagined. The simplest people in the world, unassuming, long-suffering, unassertive, and submissive. They are without malice or guile…Never quarrelsome or belligerent or boisterous, they harbor no grudges and do not seek to settle old scores; indeed, the notions of revenge, rancor, and hatred are quite foreign to them…They own next to nothing and have no urge to acquire material possessions. As a result they are neither ambitious nor greedy, and are totally uninterested in worldly power…They are innocent and pure in mind and have a lively intelligence…

“It was upon these gentle lambs, imbued by the Creator with all the qualities we have mentioned, that from the very first day they clapped eyes on them the Spanish fell like ravening wolves upon the fold…The pattern established at the outset has remained unchanged to this day, and the Spaniards still do nothing save tear the natives to shreds, murder them and inflict upon them untold misery, suffering and distress, tormenting, harrying and persecuting them mercilessly.

“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.’

“They spared no one, erecting especially wide gibbets on which they could string their victims up with their feet just off the ground and then burn them alive thirteen at a time, in honor of our Savior and the twelve Apostles, or tie dry straw to their bodies and set fire to it…The way they normally dealt with the native leaders and nobles was to tie them to a kind of griddle consisting of sticks resting on pitchforks driven into the ground and then grill them over a slow fire, with the result that they howled in agony and despair as they died a lingering death.

“It once happened that I myself witnessed their grilling of four or five local leaders in this fashion (and I believe they had set up two or three other pairs of grills alongside so that they might process other victims at the same time) when the poor creatures ‘howls came between the Spanish commander and his sleep. He gave orders that the prisoners were to be throttled, but the man in charge of execution detail, who was more bloodthirsty than the average common hangman (I know his identity and even met some relatives of his in Seville), was loath to cut short his private entertainment by throttling them and so he personally went round ramming wooden buns into their mouths to stop them making such a racket and deliberately stoked the fire that they would take just as long to die as he himself chose. I saw these things for myself and many others besides.

“…It is reported that the butcher-in-chief arranged for a large number of natives in the area and, in particular, one group of over two hundred who had either come form a neighboring town in response to a summons or had gathered of their own free will, to have their noses, lips and chins sliced from their faces; they were sent away, in unspeakable agony and all running with blood…”

Opposition to Columbus celebrations

“Opposition to Columbus Day dates to at least the 19th century where activists had sought to eradicate Columbus Day celebrations because of its association with immigrants and the Knights of Columbus. They were afraid it was being used to expand Catholic influence. By far the more common opposition today, decrying Columbus’s and Europeans’ actions against the indigenous populations of the Americas, did not gain much traction until the latter half of the 20th century. This opposition has been spearheaded by indigenous groups,vthough it has spread into the mainstream.

“There are two main strands of this critique, which are interrelated. The first refers primarily to the indigenous population collapse and cruel treatment towards indigenous peoples during the European colonization of the American continents, which followed Columbus’s discovery. Some, such as the American Indian Movement, have argued that the responsibility of contemporary governments and their citizens for allegedly ongoing acts of genocide against Native Americans are masked by positive Columbus myths and celebrations. These critics argue that a particular understanding of the legacy of Columbus has been used to legitimize their actions, and it is this misuse of history that must be exposed. F. David Peat asserts that many cultural myths of North America exclude or diminish the culture and myths of Native Americans. These cultural myths include ideas expressed by Michael Berliner of the Ayn Rand Institute claiming that Western civilization brought “reason, science, self-reliance, individualism, ambition, and productive achievement” to a people who were based in “primitivism, mysticism, and collectivism”, and to a land that was “sparsely inhabited, unused, and underdeveloped.”[43] American anthropologist Jack Weatherford says that on Columbus Day, Americans celebrate the greatest waves of genocide of the Indians known in history.[44] American Indian Movement of Colorado leader and activist Ward Churchill takes this argument further, contending that the mythologizing and celebration of the European settlement of the Americas in Columbus Day make it easier for people today to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions, or the actions of their governments regarding indigenous populations. He wrote in his book Bringing the Law Back Home:

“‘Very high on the list of those expressions of non-indigenous sensibility [that] contribute to the perpetuation of genocidal policies against Indians are the annual Columbus Day celebration, events in which it is baldly asserted that the process, events, and circumstances described above are, at best, either acceptable or unimportant. More often, the sentiments expressed by the participants are, quite frankly, that the fate of Native America embodied in Columbus and the Columbian legacy is a matter to be openly and enthusiastically applauded as an unrivaled ‘boon to all mankind.’ Undeniably, the situation of American Indians will not — in fact cannot — change for the better so long as such attitudes are deemed socially acceptable by the mainstream populace. Hence, such celebrations as Columbus Day must be stopped.'” Read more

* The statue of Christopher Columbus in the above photo is located in the Plaza Mayor in the Old City of Santo Domingo. Beneath Columbus the Cacica, Anacaona, is depicted beneath Columbus and immortalized as the first Indian to learn to read and write. Anacaona was captured in an act of trickery whereby her village was burned and all the inhabitants slaughtered by troops under the command of Nicolas de Ovando, then Governor of Santo Domingo. Ovando was under orders by Columbus to wipe out the remaining unsubjugated Tainos who were beginning to rebel against the Spanish. Anacaona was subsequently hung in a public square in Santo Domingo.

 

 

 

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Columbus Day

Columbus Day is celebrated on the second Monday of October, in honor of Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the Americas.

On October 12, 1492, the explorer Christopher Columbus, in command of three sailing vessels that had set out from Spain, made landfall on the island of San Salvador in the Bahamas. The voyage was financed by the King and Queen of Spain, who Columbus had convinced that China and the East Indies could be reached by sailing to the west. If feasible, this would give Spain access to these rich lands without having to contend with the dangers and difficulties inherent in overland journeys.

Columbus, ignoring what African mathematicians had proven to be the length of such a voyage, arrived not in the rich courts of imperial China, but on the island now known as San Salvador in the Bahamas, occupied only by simple Taino fishermen, farmers and artisans. Continuing his voyage in his search for gold brought him to Cuba and Hispaniola, but nowhere did he find any indication of the riches he had promised his backers.

Columbus did, however, bring six examples of the indigenous Taino population and presented them to the King and Queen at the Royal Palace in Barcelona.

Although according to Columbus himself,  “the inhabitants of both sexes go always naked, just as they came into the world…” the six Taino representatives were presented dressed up in painted palm leaves and feathers, gold adornments and necklaces made from the teeth and claws of rare animals. Why the disparity in dress?

The explanation seems simple: Columbus’s first voyage, contrary to his hopes and dreams, was an economic disaster. He hardly found any gold, he had lost a majority of his ships, and he was unable to bring back any tangible proof of the enormous value of his discoveries, nor to justify, in any way, the expenses of this adventure or the advisability of continuing it. To dress his captive in such a way was no more than a convincing publicity stunt.

Columbus was given a second chance and returned to the “New World” with a Spanish fleet which carried more than 1500 adventurers, the majority of which were soldiers with battle experience in the wars against the Moors of North Africa.

The TainosColumbus described the Tainos in the ship’s log and in his diary as being “a very loving people and without covetousness,… They are adaptable for every purpose, and I declare to your Highnesses that there is not a better country nor a better people in the world than these.…They are so ingenious and free with all they have that no one would believe it who has not seen it; of anything they possess, if it be asked of them, they never say no; on the contrary they invite you to share it and show as much love as if their hearts went with it…”

The 16th-century Spanish historian, social reformer, Dominican friar and first officially appointed “protector of the Indians,” Bartolomé de las Casas, described the subsequent treatment of the natives of the newly “discovered” lands:

“…God made all the peoples of this area…open and as innocent as can be imagined. The simplest people in the world, unassuming, long-suffering, unassertive, and submissive. They are without malice or guile…Never quarrelsome or belligerent or boisterous, they harbor no grudges and do not seek to settle old scores; indeed, the notions of revenge, rancor, and hatred are quite foreign to them…They own next to nothing and have no urge to acquire material possessions. As a result they are neither ambitious nor greedy, and are totally uninterested in worldly power…They are innocent and pure in mind and have a lively intelligence…

“It was upon these gentle lambs, imbued by the Creator with all the qualities we have mentioned, that from the very first day they clapped eyes on them the Spanish fell like ravening wolves upon the fold…The pattern established at the outset has remained unchanged to this day, and the Spaniards still do nothing save tear the natives to shreds, murder them and inflict upon them untold misery, suffering and distress, tormenting, harrying and persecuting them mercilessly.

“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.’

“They spared no one, erecting especially wide gibbets on which they could string their victims up with their feet just off the ground and then burn them alive thirteen at a time, in honor of our Savior and the twelve Apostles, or tie dry straw to their bodies and set fire to it…The way they normally dealt with the native leaders and nobles was to tie them to a kind of griddle consisting of sticks resting on pitchforks driven into the ground and then grill them over a slow fire, with the result that they howled in agony and despair as they died a lingering death.

“It once happened that I myself witnessed their grilling of four or five local leaders in this fashion (and I believe they had set up two or three other pairs of grills alongside so that they might process other victims at the same time) when the poor creatures ‘howls came between the Spanish commander and his sleep. He gave orders that the prisoners were to be throttled, but the man in charge of execution detail, who was more bloodthirsty than the average common hangman (I know his identity and even met some relatives of his in Seville), was loath to cut short his private entertainment by throttling them and so he personally went round ramming wooden buns into their mouths to stop them making such a racket and deliberately stoked the fire that they would take just as long to die as he himself chose. I saw these things for myself and many others besides.

“…It is reported that the butcher-in-chief arranged for a large number of natives in the area and, in particular, one group of over two hundred who had either come form a neighboring town in response to a summons or had gathered of their own free will, to have their noses, lips and chins sliced from their faces; they were sent away, in unspeakable agony and all running with blood…”

Happy Columbus Day!

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St. John Virgin Islands: Columbus Day

Statue of Christopher Columbus located in the Plaza Mayor in the Old City of Santo Domingo.

In the ship’s log and in his diary Columbus made the following observation concerning the Taino: “They are a very loving people and without covetousness,”…”They are adaptable for every purpose, and I declare to your Highnesses that there is not a better country nor a better people in the world than these.”…They are so ingenious and free with all they have that no one would believe it who has not seen it; of anything they possess, if it be asked of them, they never say no; on the contrary they invite you to share it and show as much love as if their hearts went with it…”

Father Bartolomé de Las Casas, who wrote extensively about the Taino culture and their interaction with the Spanish invaders, sailed to the West Indies with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. The Spanish fleet also carried more than 1500 adventurers, former prisoners and ex soldiers with battle experience in the wars against the Moors of North Africa.

Father Las Casas wrote:
“…God made all the peoples of this area…open and as innocent as can be imagined. The simplest people in the world, unassuming, long-suffering, unassertive, and submissive. They are without malice or guile…Never quarrelsome or belligerent or boisterous, they harbor no grudges and do not seek to settle old scores; indeed, the notions of revenge, rancor, and hatred are quite foreign to them…They own next to nothing and have no urge to acquire material possessions. As a result they are neither ambitious nor greedy, and are totally uninterested in worldly power…They are innocent and pure in mind and have a lively intelligence…

“It was upon these gentle lambs, imbued by the Creator with all the qualities we have mentioned, that from the very first day they clapped eyes on them the Spanish fell like ravening wolves upon the fold…The pattern established at the outset has remained unchanged to this day, and the Spaniards still do nothing save tear the natives to shreds, murder them and inflict upon them untold misery, suffering and distress, tormenting, harrying and persecuting them mercilessly.

“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.’

“They spared no one, erecting especially wide gibbets on which they could string their victims up with their feet just off the ground and then burn them alive thirteen at a time, in honor of our Savior and the twelve Apostles, or tie dry straw to their bodies and set fire to it…The way they normally dealt with the native leaders and nobles was to tie them to a kind of griddle consisting of sticks resting on pitchforks driven into the ground and then grill them over a slow fire, with the result that they howled in agony and despair as they died a lingering death.

“It once happened that I myself witnessed their grilling of four or five local leaders in this fashion (and I believe they had set up two or three other pairs of grills alongside so that they might process other victims at the same time) when the poor creatures ‘howls came between the Spanish commander and his sleep. He gave orders that the prisoners were to be throttled, but the man in charge of execution detail, who was more bloodthirsty than the average common hangman (I know his identity and even met some relatives of his in Seville), was loath to cut short his private entertainment by throttling them and so he personally went round ramming wooden buns into their mouths to stop them making such a racket and deliberately stoked the fire that they would take just as long to die as he himself chose. I saw these things for myself and many others besides.

“…It is reported that the butcher-in-chief arranged for a large number of natives in the area and, in particular, one group of over two hundred who had either come form a neighboring town in response to a summons or had gathered of their own free will, to have their noses, lips and chins sliced from their faces; they were sent away, in unspeakable agony and all running with blood…”

In the United States of America and in the Caribbean, Columbus Day is celebrated on the twelfth of October.

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