January 02, 2010

Bitter over Hudson anniversary

Hudson quad a success?  Depends on your perspective

Yearlong event featured scholarship and celebration, but also funding shortages and some disappointment

By Paul Grondahl
Dozens of yearlong events and exhibits commemorating the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's discovery of the river named for him were not unlike the English mariner's 1609 voyage under hire by Dutch capitalists: moments of sweet success mixed with bitter disappointment.

If you were a Native American living along the river in 1609, for instance, you might question a celebration of a trip in which Hudson and his Half Moon crew kidnapped and killed numerous native people and ushered in an era of Dutch colonization that exploited the river's natural resources and led to more slaughter.

The quadricentennial anniversary also presented an opportunity to revisit the reputation of Hudson, as Canadian author and sailor Douglas Hunter did in his 2009 book, "Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage that Redrew the Map of the World."

Instead of an iconic explorer lauded for his adventurousness, Hunter portrayed Hudson as a rascal going rogue. He described an Englishman who absconded with his Dutch-owned ship after failing to find an Arctic passage to Asia, essentially shipjacking the Half Moon rather than sailing it directly back to Amsterdam as called for in his contract with the Dutch East India Company.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Hudson Websites Omit Indians and Indians Not Invited to Hudson Anniversary.

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