November 20, 2006

The first Native stereotypes (ever)

From Columbus's journal entry on the Taino Indians, Oct. 12, 1492:[T]hey seemed on the whole to me, to be a very poor people.

Weapons they have none, nor are acquainted with them, for I showed them swords which they grasped by the blades, and cut themselves through ignorance.

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.


Anonymous said...

It seems Mr. Columbus was just so anxious to convert the Natives to Christianity.

The sad thing is that his and the Puritans attitude of "if these people aren't like us , they're WRONG and must be taught our way-the RIGHT way." is still the attitude of many Americans today.

archie said...

This passage is actually taken from a short part of Columbus' writings written by the Admiral who was accompaning him on behalf of Spain.

Columbus himself seems much more genuinly excited to meet these new people!

Rob said...

An admiral accompanied Columbus on his first voyage? Who was this admiral? I've read books on Columbus's voyages and I've never heard of this person.

As far as I know, Columbus himself wrote the journal entry I quoted. People called him Admiral because that was part of his deal with Queen Isabella. If he reached China, he'd receive the title "Admiral of the Ocean Sea."