I love Columbus Day. Each year I recall the simple song I learned as a child about the man who “discovered” America. I still recall the innocent boy whose imagination was taken by the story of adventure and discovery.
In fourteen hundred and ninety two Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
On Columbus Day, I reflect on the facts of that fateful discovery. Hispaniola at the time of Columbus’ arrival was home to as many as 300,000 people. On seeing the Arawak people Columbus wrote in his journal, “At daybreak great multitudes of men came to the shore, all young and of fine shapes, and very handsome. Their eyes are large and very beautiful.” In the same entry he wrote, “It appears to me, that the people are ingenious, and would be good servants and I am of opinion that they would very readily become Christians, as they appear to have no religion.” Columbus kidnapped up to 25 people, although only 7 or 8 survived the journey back to Spain. By 1496 it is estimated that one third of the population had been killed or taken as slaves. In 1592 fewer than 200 Indigenous people remained. By 1555, none survived.
I realize every lie and distortion i hold of my country began in that classroom all those years ago
For more on this story, visit: Once Columbus | Voices for Creative Nonviolence.