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Christopher Columbus's portrait, painted by Alejo Fernández
1505 and 1536 (photo by historian Manuel Rosa)

Christopher Columbus
1451 - 1506
Opens the Door to European Invasion of the Americas

In 1500, Columbus wrote to a friend:

"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."

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The following quote from an article Bill Biglow wrote, Rethinking Columbus: Towards a True People's History, published on Saturday, October 6, 2012, by Common Dreams, nicely articulates the reason why we, the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas, must become more forceful in our demands that the true histories of our Peoples be taught in schools.

Bill Bigelow taught high school social studies in Portland, Ore. for almost 30 years. He is the curriculum editor of “Rethinking Schools” and the co-director of the Zinn Education Project. This project offers free materials to teach people’s history and an “If We Knew Our History” article series. Bigelow is author or co-editor of numerous books, including “A People’s History” for the Classroom and “The Line Between Us: Teaching About the Border and Mexican Immigration”.

“For years, I opened my 11th-grade U.S. history classes by asking students, “What’s the name of that guy they say discovered America?” A few students might object to the word “discover,” but they all knew the fellow I was talking about, “Christopher Columbus!”, several called out in unison.

“Right. So who did he find when he came here?” I asked. Usually, a few students would say, “Indians,” but I asked them to be specific: “Which nationality? What are their names?”

Silence.

In more than 30 years of teaching U.S. history and guest-teaching in others’ classes, I’ve never had a single student say, “Taínos.” So I ask them to think about that fact. “How do we explain that? We all know the name of the man who came here from Europe, but none of us knows the name of the people who were here first—and there were hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of them. Why haven’t you heard of them?”

This ignorance is an artifact of historical silencing—rendering invisible the lives and stories of entire peoples. It’s what educators began addressing in earnest 20 years ago, during plans for the 500th anniversary of Columbus’s arrival in the Americas, which at the time the boasted would be “the most stupendous international celebration in the history of notable celebrations.” Native American and social justice activists, along with educators of conscience, pledged to interrupt the festivities.” The full story Rethinking Columbus: Towards a True People's History

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A substantial amount of the money used by Queen Isabella to finance the explorations of Columbus came from the seizure and sale of properties owned by Spanish Jews and Muslims. On March 30, 1492, she issued an edict demanding that Jews either convert to Catholicism, leave the country, or be executed.

Quoted from We Were Not the Savages

"The event that led European Nations to destroy many of the civilizations of two continents, and drastically diminish the remainder, resulted from what was an almost impossible accident of fate. If it had not already occurred, it would be virtually impossible to envision.

In 1492, Christopher Columbus, on a sea voyage to chart a shortcut to the Indies, funded by Queen Isabella of Spain, set the stage for the rape of American civilizations by going astray at sea. By chance he eventually landed on a small island in the Caribbean sea populated by a defenseless and friendly pacifist race of people, the Taino. These people were ripe for picking by unscrupulous men, and Columbus and his crew pillaged with impunity. The blind luck that led him to land on this small defenseless island instead of somewhere else along the thousands of miles of North and South American coastline-where people wouldn't have been so complacent-is akin to finding a needle in a haystack.

In retrospect, if he had instead landed in a non-pacifist country, such as that of the Iroquois or Maya, history would have turned out differently. Their Warriors would have fought back ferociously, very probably ending his voyage on the American side of the Atlantic. If this had happened, and no Europeans had appeared for another century, population growth and technology development would have reduced the possibility of European colonization considerably. However, history turned out the way it did and no amount of fantasizing can change that.

Columbus, thinking he was in the Indies, did not waste time paying lip service to the pretence that he was importing "shining" European ideals to the people he mistakenly labelled Indians. Instead he wrote in his journal: "We can send from here, in the name of the Holy Trinity, all the slaves and Brazil wood which could be sold." True to the intent of these words, he initiated the Amerindian slave harvest on his first voyage. When he embarked from the Americas for Spain, it was with a cargo of five hundred Native Americans (it could have been a smaller number, I took the figure from a White man's declaration) crammed into three ships to be sold on the continental slave markets. Upon landing at Seville, only about three hundred of these unfortunate souls were still alive. These and booty were turned over to Queen Isabella.

(Ship size - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia): (The Santa María (aka Gallega) was the largest, of a type known as a carrack. The NiZa and the Pinta were smaller. They were called caravels, a name then given to the smallest three-masted vessels. Columbus once uses it for a vessel of forty tons, but it generally applied in Portuguese or Spanish use to a vessel ranging one hundred and twenty to one hundred and forty Spanish "toneles." This word represents a capacity about one-tenth larger than that expressed by our English "ton." The reader should remember that most of the commerce of the time was the coastal commerce of the Mediterranean and that it was better if ships did not draw much water. The fleet of Columbus, as it sailed, consisted of the Gallega (the Galician), of which he changed the name to the Santa Maria, and of the Pinta and the NiZa. Of these the first two were of a tonnage which we should rate as about one hundred and thirty tons. The NiZa was much smaller, not more than fifty tons. One writer says that they were all without full decks, that is, that such decks as they had did not extend from stem to stern. But the other authorities speak as if the NiZa only was an open vessel, and the two larger were decked. Columbus himself took command of the Santa Maria, Martin Alonso Pinzon of the Pinta, and his brothers, Francis Martin and Vicente Yanez, of the NiZa. The whole company in all three ships numbered one hundred and twenty men.)

The news of the riches offered by Hispaniola and surrounding islands soon spread across Europe. The notion of fabulous wealth for the picking was like a magnet for other European Nations. Within a few years, harvesters from Spain and other European countries were travelling from island to island seeking artifacts, precious metals, spices, and human beings for enslavement. The cruel assault mounted by these people against the defenseless and non-aggressive Taino, who had numbered in the millions in 1492, was so effective that forty years later they were virtually extinct."

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Its long been my contention that, among the power brokers of Euro descent in the Americas there is a deep rooted fear of First Nations People assuming political power in the countries that their ancestors founded in the two continents because they would reveal and publicize the truth of the horrors that Columbus's arrival begot. This is probably why they hate Chavez so much. However, Chavez is not alone in his views; scholars within native studies familiar with the genocide of indigenous peoples of the Americas tend to share his sobering perspective.

THE PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA CONDEMNS COLUMBUS

Monday, October 13, 2003 Back The Halifax Herald Limited
Chavez claims Columbus sparked 'genocide'

'There's nothing to celebrate. What they did here was massacre the indigenous people.'

By Stephen Ixer / The Associated Press

Caracas - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez paid tribute to indigenous peoples of the Americas on Sunday and said the arrival of Christopher Columbus sparked "the biggest genocide in history."

"There's nothing to celebrate," Chavez said. "What they did here was massacre the indigenous people."

Last year Chavez signed a decree changing the name of Venezuela's Oct. 12 Columbus Day to the Day of Indigenous Resistance.

On Sunday, he described how Spanish, Portuguese and English invaders slaughtered millions of native inhabitants. The indigenous population of the Americas plummeted from 100 million at the time of Columbus' arrival to just three million 150 years later, Chavez claimed.

"They executed an aboriginal every 10 minutes - the biggest genocide in registered in history," Chavez said during his weekly TV and radio program.

Chavez devoted most of the four-hour show to the plight of indigenous groups. Guests from Peru and Ecuador wearing traditional brightly coloured dresses praised Chavez for his defence of indigenous rights.

Chavez hooked up with a live broadcast of an international gathering of indigenous peoples being held in Caracas.

He also announced the creation of Mission Guaicaipuro to promote development among Venezuela's indigenous groups. The project - named for an Indian chief in Venezuela who fought the Spaniards - will include demarcation of aboriginal lands and offer cheap credit to indigenous people.

There are approximately 350,000 indigenous peoples from 28 distinct ethnic groups in this country of 24 million. Most Venezuelans are considered to be "meztizo," a mix of Spanish, African, and native indigenous bloodlines. Columbus first stepped on South American soil Oct. 12, 1498 in what is now the town of Macuro, located some 500 kilometres east of Caracas, the capital city.

Venezuelans refer to Columbus Day as the Day of Race, a reference to the day different races first met here and began to mix. The day was designated as such by dictator Juan Vicente Gomez in 1921.

Since taking office in 1999, left-leaning Chavez has gained considerable backing from indigenous communities.

Through a new constitution pushed through by his political allies, Chavez paved the way for the demarcation of "indigenous habitats" and gave them representation in the legislature.

Despite the measures, most indigenous peoples still live in below-average social conditions. Many of the country's indigenous descendants are uneducated and most don't possess property titles.

Christopher Columbus died in poverty at Valladolid, Spain, on May 20, 1506.

Click to read a Halifax Herald column I wrote about colonial criminals - October 30, 2003:
http://www.danielnpaul.com/Col/2003/JudgingColonialCrimesByModernStandards.html

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The following incident set a precedent for European powers to forgive Caucasian barbarians who mass murdered American Indians. It is rare, indeed, to find an instance where one of them was imprisoned, or executed, for the horrors he committed.

On August 23, 1500, Christopher Columbus and his brothers were sent back to Spain in chains by Spanish Governor Francesco de Bobadilla for mistreating Natives in the section of Hispaniola now known as Haiti. When they arrived in Spain, they were immediately released and graciously received at the royal court.

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Examining the Reputation of Columbus

An Essay by Jack Weatherford - Baltimore Sun, October 6, 1989

Christopher Columbus' reputation has not survived the scrutiny of history, and today we know that he was no more the discoverer of America than Pocahontas was the discoverer of Great Britain. Native Americans had built great civilizations with many millions of people long before Columbus wandered lost into the Caribbean.

Columbus' voyage has even less meaning for North Americans than for South Americans because Columbus never set foot on our continent, nor did he open it to European trade. Scandinavian Vikings already had settlements here in the eleventh century, and British fisherman probably fished the shores of Canada for decades before Columbus. The first European explorer to thoroughly document his visit to North America was the Italian explorer Giovanni Caboto, who sailed for England's King Henry VII and became known by his anglicized name, John Cabot. Caboto arrived in 1497 and claimed North America for the English sovereign while Columbus was still searching for India in the Caribbean. After three voyages to America and more than a decade of study, Columbus still believed that Cuba was a part of Asia, South America was only an island, and the coast of Central America was near the Ganges River.

Unable to celebrate Columbus' exploration as a great discovery, some apologists now want to commemorate it as a great "cultural encounter." Under this interpretation, Columbus becomes a sensitive genius thinking beyond his time in the passionate pursuit of knowledge and understanding. The historical record refutes this, too.

Contrary to popular legend, Columbus did not prove that the world was round; educated people had known that for centuries. The Egyptian-Greek scientist Erastosthenes, working for Alexandria and Aswan, already had measured the circumference and diameter of the world in the third century B.C. Arab scientists had developed a whole discipline of geography and measurement, and in the tenth century A.D., Al Maqdisi described the earth with 360 degrees of longitude and 180 degrees of latitude. The Monastery of St. Catherine in the Sinai still has an icon — painted 500 years before Columbus — which shows Jesus ruling over a spherical earth. Nevertheless, Americans have embroidered many such legends around Columbus, and he has become part of a secular mythology for schoolchildren. Autumn would hardly be complete in U.S. elementary schools without construction-paper replicas of the three ships that Columbus sailed to America, or without drawings of Queen Isabella pawning her jewels to finance Columbus' trip.

This myth of the pawned jewels obscures the true and more sinister story of how Columbus financed his trip. The Spanish monarch invested in his excursion, but only on the condition that Columbus would repay this investment with profit by bringing back gold, spices, and other tribute from Asia. This pressing need to repay his debt underlies the frantic tone of Columbus' diaries as he raced from one Caribbean island to the next, stealing anything of value.

After he failed to contact the emperor of China, the traders of India, or the merchants of Japan, Columbus decided to pay for his voyage in the one important commodity he had found in ample supply — human lives. He seized 1,200 Taino Indians from the island of Hispaniola, crammed as many onto his ships as would fit, and sent them to Spain, where they were paraded naked through the streets of Seville and sold as slaves in 1495. Columbus tore children from their parents, husbands from wives. On board Columbus' slave ships, hundreds died; the sailors tossed the Indian bodies into the Atlantic.

Because Columbus captured more Indian slaves than he could transport to Spain in his small ships, he put them to work in mines and plantations which he, his family, and followers created throughout the Caribbean. His marauding band hunted Indians for sport and profit — beating, raping, torturing, killing, and then using the Indian bodies as food for their hunting dogs. Within four years of Columbus' arrival on Hispaniola, his men had killed or exported one-third of the original Indian population of 300,000.

This was the great cultural encounter initiated by Christopher Columbus. This is the event celebrated each year on Columbus Day. The United States honors only two men with federal holidays bearing their names. In January we commemorate the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr., who struggled to lift the blinders of racial prejudice and to cut the remaining bonds of slavery in America. In October, we honor Christopher Columbus, who opened the Atlantic slave trade and launched one of the greatest waves of genocide known in history.

The Essay has also been published using this title: Honoring Columbus honors legacy of slave-trading, genocide

Note

Jack Weatherford is Professor of Anthropology at Macalaster College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is author of Indian Givers: How the Indians of the Americas Transformed the World and several other books, and he has appeared on "The Today Show," "ABC Evening News with Peter Jennings," "Larry King," "All Things Considered," and other TV and radio programs. The essay above is adapted from an article Professor Weatherford wrote in 1989 for the Baltimore Evening Sun. Essay copyright © 2002, Jack Weatherford.

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Mon, 9 Oct 2006

From: Andre Cramblit

It's Columbus Day - What are we celebrating for?

"We shall take you and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault ." - Christopher Columbus

Each October children in classrooms around the nation will dutifully recite their Columbus Day "facts": the ships ("the NiZa, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria."), the year ("In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue..."), and even the fruit that the explorer thought best resembled the Earth (that would be the orange ). Our national leaders take time out of their busy schedules - raising money and covering up scandals - to commemorate the man who "found" America.

Of course by now many of us know that Columbus was not the first European to sail to North America - a Viking did that nearly 500 years earlier - and that the arrival of the Spanish empire wasn't exactly a blessing to the hemisphere. What many of us don't know, and what many more of us willfully ignore, is what Columbus really was the first to do on our side of the pond.

Christopher Columbus, you see, was a slave trader, a gold digger, a missionary, and even a war profiteer in the name of Ferdinand and Isabella. The arrival of Columbus's small fleet on what is now San Salvador (that's Spanish for "Holy Savior") was greeted by the "decorous and praiseworthy" Taino Indians (Columbus's words) and was followed almost immediately by mass enslavement, amputation for sport, and a genocide that claimed over four million people in four years. That's quite a saving.

His arrival also marked the beginning of 500 years of imperialism, enslavement, disease, genocide, and a legacy of impoverishment and discrimination that our nation is only beginning to come to terms with. Today American Indians lack adequate healthcare and housing, receive pitiful education, face daunting barriers to economic opportunity, and see their lands (that would be the whole of the continent) overrun with pollution and big business.

Columbus Day has been celebrated as a federal holiday since 1971, making it the first of only two federal holidays to honor a person by name. The other celebrates the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It isn't Christopher Columbus and the conquistadors, though, that resemble the selflessness of the Rev. King and the best traditions of the American ideal. From the hospitality of the Taino Indians toward Columbus's crew, on which he remarked at length in his diaries, to the generosity of the Wampanoag in sharing their traditional feast with the Pilgrims, the history and tradition of Indian cultures have characterized the values of a plural and welcoming community. Even today American Indians proudly serve a country that has given them so little and taken so much.

A disproportionate number of young men and women fight and die for our country and for the constitution (based on the Iroquois Confederacy) that did so little to protect their own freedoms. Lori Piestewa, a Hopi soldier, became the first Indian woman to die in combat for the US military, when her convoy - famous for her friend Jessica Lynch - was ambushed outside Nasiriyah, Iraq. Her memory, like the sacrifices of so many of our Indians, is too often forgotten or obscured by the mass media and the gener al public.

So today we honor their sacrifices. We honor the dedication of American Indians to the best aspirations of people everywhere, the commitment to democracy, to the constitution, and to the right to vote. And we honor the generosity and selflessness of our best Americans, especially those tribes that greeted our nation's first immigrants with curiosity and open arms.

While many people, including the entire federal workforce, take Monday off for Columbus Day, INDN's List will be hard at work protecting the rights of Indians everywhere. We believe in this democracy everyone ought to have a right to vote, a right to run for office and a voice to be heard. Please continue supporting our work and our candidates, and lodge your protest of Columbus Day by contributing to INDN's List on "his" day.

Paid for by INDN's List - 406 S Boulder, Mezzanine Ste 200, Tulsa, OK 74103

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White Supremacists Mentality

September 26, 2003

Columbus Day - by Daniel N. Paul

White supremacist mentalities guide the actions of whites who idolize individuals such as Columbus as heroes. How could any descent human being say otherwise? For example, Columbus's staunch supporters steadfastly ignore the fact that he, by landing on a small Caribbean Island and capturing people to be sold as slaves, began what would be the world's most horrendous human tragedy, the complete destruction of a great many of the civilizations of two continents, and the near destruction of the remainder, a process that included the massacre of tens of millions of First Nations Peoples.

The number of our Peoples who died, and in many cases who are still dying, because of the European invasion he initiated, is incalculable. The closest number one can estimate, when taking into consideration that the slaughter started in 1492 has continued to a certain degree to this day, is several hundred millions. And, the vast majority of the millions who are the remnant of the original great civilizations that once prospered across the two continents, live a poverty stricken existence.

This is something that should instill in the people whose ancestors begot the horror shame, not pride. The idolizing of such barbarians as Columbus by European descended populations is not restricted to any one corner of the Americas. For instance, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, there is a park named in honour of Edward Cornwallis, the Province's eighteenth century blood thirsty British colonial Governor, who participated in an attempt to commit genocide - it contains a large statue of him. He, and his Council, on October 1, 1749, decided to try to exterminate the Mi'kmaq indigenous to what is now Canada's Maritime provinces. The method chosen by them to try to realize their inhuman goal was to issue a Proclamation offering a bounty of ten pounds (British money) for the scalps of the people, including women and children. On June 21, 1750, perhaps because the scalps were not coming in fast enough, they issued another proclamation upping the bounty to fifty pounds.

Unfortunately, not knowing their histories, many of our Peoples innocently participate in the idolizing of these monsters. In view of this, I believe that it is time for us to undertake an in-depth education process that would instill in our Peoples the historic knowledge that would eventually see them undertake a complete boycott of any celebration, building, park, arena, etc. named in honour of the monsters who promoted the slaughter of our ancestors. In honour of the memories of our persecuted ancestors, can we in good conscience aspire to do anything less?

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The myth of “America”

Monday, October 12, 2009

By Dahr Jamail and Jason Coppola

To mark Columbus Day In 2004, the Medieval and Renaissance Center in UCLA published the final volume of a compendium of Columbus-era documents. Its general editor, Geoffrey Symcox, leaves little room for ambivalence when he says, "This is not your grandfather's Columbus.... While giving the brilliant mariner his due, the collection portrays Columbus as an unrelenting social climber and self-promoter who stopped at nothing - not even exploitation, slavery, or twisting biblical scripture - to advance his ambitions.... Many of the unflattering documents have been known for the last century or more, but nobody paid much attention to them until recently. The fact that Columbus brought slavery, enormous exploitation or devastating diseases to the Americas used to be seen as a minor detail - if it was recognized at all - in light of his role as the great bringer of white man's civilization to the benighted idolatrous American continent. But to historians today this information is very important. It changes our whole view of the enterprise...."

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"They ... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells," Christopher Columbus wrote in his logbook in 1495. "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. Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold."

Catholic priest Bartolome de las Casas, in the multi-volume "History of the Indies" published in 1875, wrote, "... Slaves were the primary source of income for the Admiral (Columbus) with that income he intended to repay the money the Kings were spending in support of Spaniards on the Island. They provide profit and income to the Kings. (The Spaniards were driven by) insatiable greed ... killing, terrorizing, afflicting, and torturing the native peoples ... with the strangest and most varied new methods of cruelty."

This systematic violence was aimed at preventing "Indians from daring to think of themselves as human beings. (The Spaniards) thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades.... My eyes have seen these acts so foreign to human nature, and now I tremble as I write."

Father Fray Antonio de Montesino, a Dominican preacher, in December 1511 said this in a sermon that implicated Christopher Columbus and the colonists in the genocide of the native peoples: "Tell me by what right of justice do you hold these Indians in such a cruel and horrible servitude? On what authority have you waged such detestable wars against these people who dealt quietly and peacefully on their own lands? Wars in which you have destroyed such an infinite number of them by homicides and slaughters never heard of before ..."

In 1892, the National Council of Churches, the largest ecumenical body in the United States, is known to have exhorted Christians to refrain from celebrating the Columbus quincentennial, saying, "What represented newness of freedom, hope, and opportunity for some was the occasion for oppression, degradation and genocide for others...."

Yet America continues to celebrate "Columbus Day."

That Americans do so in the face of all evidence that there is little in the Columbian legacy that merits applause makes it easier for them to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions, or the actions of their government. Perhaps there is good reason.

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In "Columbus Day: A Clash of Myth and History," journalist and media critic Norman Solomon discusses how historians who deal with recorded evidence are frequently depicted as "politically correct" revisionists while the general populace is manipulated into holding onto myths that brazenly applaud inconceivable acts of violence of men against fellow humans.

For those of us who are willing to ask how it becomes possible to manipulate the population of a country into accepting atrocity, the answer is not hard to find. It requires normalizing the inconceivable and drumming it in via the socio-cultural environment until it is internalized and embedded in the individual and collective consciousness. The combined or singular deployment of the media, the entertainment industry, mainstream education or any other agency, can achieve the desired result of convincing people that wars can be just, and strikes can be surgical, as long as it is the US that is doing it....

How might this become accepted as "Policy" and remain unquestioned by almost an entire population?

The one word key to that is: Myths. The explanation is that the myths the United States is built upon have paved the way for the perpetuation of all manner of violations. Among the first of these is that of Christopher Columbus. In school we were taught of his bravery, courage and perseverance. In a speech in 1989, George H.W. Bush proclaimed: "Christopher Columbus not only opened the door to a New World, but also set an example for us all by showing what monumental feats can be accomplished through perseverance and faith."

Never mind that the monumental feats mainly comprised part butchery, part exploitation and the largest part betrayal of host populations of the "New World."

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On their second arrival in Hispaniola, Haiti, Columbus's crew took captive roughly two thousand local villagers who had arrived to greet them. Miguel Cuneo, a literate crew member, 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."

In 1500, Columbus wrote to a friend, "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."

Such original "monumental feats" as were accomplished by our nation's heroes and role models were somewhat primitive. Local inhabitants who resisted Columbus and his crew had their ears or nose cut off, were attacked by dogs, skewered with pikes and shot. Reprisals were so severe that many of the natives committed mass suicide and women began practicing abortions in order not to leave children enslaved. The population of Haiti at the time of Columbus's arrival was between 1.5 million and 3 million. Sixty years later, every single native had been murdered....

In "A People's History of the United States," celebrated historian Howard Zinn describes how Arawak men and women emerged from their villages to greet their guests with food, water and gifts when Columbus landed at the Bahamas. But Columbus wanted something else. "Gold is most excellent; gold constitutes treasure; and he who has it does all he wants in the world, and can even lift souls up to Paradise," he wrote to the king and queen of Spain in 1503.

Rather than gold, however, Columbus only found slaves when he arrived on his second visit with seventeen ships and over 1,200 men. Ravaging various Caribbean islands, Columbus took natives as captives as he sailed. Of these he picked 500 of the best specimens and shipped them back to Spain. Two hundred of these died en route, while the survivors were put up for sale by the archdeacon of the town where they landed.

Columbus needed more than mere slaves to sell, and Zinn's account informs us, "... desperate to pay back dividends to those who had invested, (he) had to make good his promise to fill the ships with gold. In the province of Cicao on Haiti, where he and his men imagined huge gold fields to exist, they ordered all persons fourteen years or older to collect a certain quantity of gold every three months. When they brought it, they were given copper tokens to hang around their necks. Indians found without a copper token had their hands cut off and bled to death.

"The Indians had been given an impossible task. The only gold around was bits of dust garnered from the streams. So they fled, were hunted down with dogs, and were killed."

As a younger priest, the aforementioned De las Casas had participated in the conquest of Cuba and owned a plantation where natives worked as slaves before he found his conscience and gave it up. His first-person accounts reveal that the Spaniards "thought nothing of knifing Indians by tens and twenties and of cutting slices off them to test the sharpness of their blades. 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 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 litle perisher.' They slaughtered anyone on their path ..."

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Full Spectrum Dominance

In a letter to the Spanish court dated February 15, 1492, Columbus presented his version of full spectrum dominance: "to conquer the world, spread the Christian faith and regain the Holy Land and the Temple Mount."

With this radical ideology, Las Casas records, "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 burned them alive thirteen at a time, in honour of our Saviour and the twelve Apostles."

About incorporating these accounts in his book, Zinn explained to Truthout, "My point is not to grieve for the victims and denounce the executioners. Those tears, that anger, cast into the past, deplete our moral energy for the present ... but I do remember a statement I once read: The cry of the poor is not always just, but if you don't listen to it, you will never know what justice is."

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Author journalist Chris Hedges believes that glorification of (the atrocities of) Columbus is one of several myths that sustain the illusions that justify the imperial visions of the United States.

In conversation with Truthout, he said, "It's really easy to build a holocaust museum that condemns Germans. It's another issue to build a museum that confronts our own genocide, the genocide that was perpetrated by our own ancestors towards Native Americans or towards African-Americans. I am all for documenting and remembering the [World War II] Holocaust, but the disparity between the reality of the [World War II] Holocaust or the reality of the genocide as illustrated in the [World War II] Holocaust museum and the utter historical amnesia in the Native American museum in Washington is really frightening and shows a complete inability in a public arena for us to examine who we are and what we've done."

Noam Chomsky holds a similar view. "We have [World War II] Holocaust museums all over the place about what the Germans did," Chomsky told Truthout. "Do we have one about what we did? I mean about slavery, about the Native American population? It's not that the people involved didn't know about it. John Quincy Adams, a great grand strategist, who had a major role in these atrocities, in his later years when he reflected on them, referred to that hapless race of North Americans, which we are exterminating with such insidious cruelty. They knew exactly what they were doing. But it doesn't matter. It's us."

Explaining how the mythology of a country becomes its historic reality, Chomsky stated, "If you are well-educated, you can internalize that and it. That's part of what a good education is about, enabling people to live with those contradictions. And you see it very consistently. In the case of, say, the Iraq war, try to find somebody who had a principled objection. Actually you can, occasionally, but it's suppressed."

Historical revisionism and amnesia are critical for nation-building, opines Paul Woodward, the writer and author of the blog "". He elaborates, "Every nation is subject to its own particular form of historical amnesia. Likewise, imperial powers have their own grandiose revisionist tendencies. Yet there is another form of historical denial particular to recently invented nations whose myth-making efforts are inextricably bound together with the process of the nation's birth ...

"Whereas older nations are by and large populated by people whose ancestral roots penetrated that land well before it took on the clear definition of a nation state, the majority of the people in an invented nation - such as the United States or Israel - have ancestry that inevitably leads elsewhere. This exposes the ephemeral link between the peoples' history and the nation's history. Add to that the fact that such nations came into being through grotesque acts of dispossession and it is clear that a psychological drive to hold aloft an atemporal exceptionalism becomes an existential necessity. National security requires that the past be erased."

Robert Jensen is an author and teaches media law, ethics and politics at the University of Texas. In an where he justifies his decision to not celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday, he says, "Imagine that Germany won World War II and that a Nazi regime endured for some decades, eventually giving way to a more liberal state with a softer version of German-supremacist ideology. Imagine that a century later Germans celebrated a holiday offering a whitewashed version of German/Jewish history that ignored that holocaust and the deep anti-Semitism of the culture. Imagine that the holiday provided a welcomed time for families and friends to gather and enjoy food and conversation. Imagine that businesses, schools and government offices closed on this day. What would we say about such a holiday? Would we not question the distortions woven into such a celebration? Would we not demand a more accurate historical account? Would we not, in fact, denounce such a holiday as grotesque?"

Of course we would.

But our story is different, and once again this year, on October 12, we will once again "Hail Columbus."

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Bhaswati Sengupta contributed to this report.

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Please click to read about The Doctrine of Discovery: http://www.danielnpaul.com/DoctrineOfDiscovery.html

Please click to read about The Real Thanksgiving: http://www.danielnpaul.com/TheRealThanksgiving.html

A Sample of Colonial British Governor's Proclamations, which Offered Monetary Rewards for the Scalps of American Indians, including Women and Children:

http://www.danielnpaul.com/BritishScalpBounties.html

http://www.danielnpaul.com/BritishScalpProclamation-1744.html

http://www.danielnpaul.com/BritishScalpProclamation-1749.html

http://www.danielnpaul.com/BritishScalpProclamation-1756.html

American Indian Genocide http://www.danielnpaul.com/AmericanIndiansGenocide.htmll

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A fiting end for a despot: Columbus died in poverty at Valladolid, Spain, May 20, 1506.

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