October 12 is Columbus Day, commemorating the day a sailor on board the Pinta sighted land in the Americas. The next day, the 90 crew members of Christopher Columbus’s three-ship fleet landed on the Bahamian island of Guanahaní, and a new era of European exploration and expansion began.
Not everyone considers this to be a cause for celebration. As Edward T. Stone in American Heritage Magazine (October 1975) noted, “The somber chronicle of the events that ended in the genocide of the peaceful Arawaks of the Caribbean islands is amply documented in Columbus’ own letters and journals.”
Upon his arrival in the New World, Columbus recorded of the natives:
“They have no weapons and are all naked without any skill in arms and are very cowardly so that a thousand would not challenge three. … Thus they are useful to be commanded and to be made to labor and sow and to do everything else of which there is need and build towns and be taught to wear clothes and learn our customs.”
On a second trip back to the Caribbean, Columbus brought “ferocious greyhounds” that could tear the Indians to pieces if they did not submit to the rape and slavery the Spaniards had in mind for them.
As James Loewen pointed out in the book Lies My Teacher Told Me:
“Here now began a reign of terror in Hispaniola. Spaniards hunted American Indians for sport and murdered them for dog food. Columbus, upset because he could not locate the gold he was certain was on the island, set up a tribute system.”
Those who couldn’t pay had their hands cut off. Hands escalated to heads and then bodies. Suicides became rife. In a few years, the entire population was eliminated, and thus the Spaniards (deciding that this rape and slavery arrangement was a good thing) had to start importing Africans. Eventually, the island of Haiti came to be inhabited by a predominance of black Africans.
It is said that Hitler studied and admired the treatment and decimation of the Arawaks by Columbus and his men.
Today, many Americans choose to forget, or never learned, the true nature of the conquest by Columbus.