The thirst for cheap labor and the blood of the indigenous
The thirst for cheap labor and the blood of the indigenous is another part of American History that little is spoken about.
As many people across America celebrated Columbus Day today, October 12th, some indigenous peoples Celebrated Indigenous People's Day with an Annual Papal Bulls Burning, an event that seeks the formal revocation of the 1493 papal bull "Inter Caetera", while others continued to raise awareness to the often unspoken legacy of Christopher Columbus by asking people to reconsider why we celebrate Columbus Day and not Indigenous Peoples' Day and to examine the legacy of Christopher Columbus.
From the moment a sailor aboard the Pinta sighted land from the sea, on October 12, 1492, the course of indigenous history was forever changed. Upon landing on what is now the Bahamas, once known as Guanahani, Columbus encountered indigenous peoples of the Lucayan, Taíno or Arawak, nations. Peaceful and friendly, Columbus and his Spanish explorers manipulated their hospitality and mercilessly slaughtered, enslaved, and stole lands in the name of the Spanish crown. He wrote of them in his journal, "They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them."
In his four voyages to the Americas, traveling extensively throughout the Caribbean and Central America, each voyage became more deadly than the first. Within two years of his initial landing historians estimate that half of what is believed to have been 250,000 Taino people were massacred. Remaining survivors were either sold into European slavery, forced to mine gold for the Spaniards in the Americas, and many later died of disease.
Even after Columbus' death, the brutality he implemented on the island of Hispañola (now the Dominican Republic and Haiti) endured. By 1550, only a few hundred Taino remained in Hispañola and in Mexico and estimated indigenous population of 25 million was decimated to 1 million by 1605.
This drastic decrease in the indigenous populations of the Americas, later brought about the trans-Atlantic African slave trade, and was followed by indentured Chinese labor after slavery's abolition. The thirst of cheap labor and the blood of the indigenous, Africans, and Chinese, still stain the soil that is the foundation of development in the New World.
However, this is not the history that is taught in schools throughout the United States. Our children do not learn of the brutality of the explorers, of Native American history and its traditions, nor do we pay homage the cultures that ruled for centuries before Columbus' arrival. Instead every second Monday of every October of every year, we give our youth a day off to remember and reflect on the "accomplishments" of Christopher Columbus, a nautical pioneer, explorer and a man who ordered the murder and enslavement of thousands.
Despite the 1990 Congressional resolution designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month, we have yet honor the indigenous peoples of the Americas with a national holiday. How many of us even recognize and/or celebrate American Indian Heritage Month annually?
What we have failed to realize in the United States is that Native American history is our history. If we are to call ourselves "Americans" we must honor and respect the first peoples of the Americas. So on this day, let us reconsider why we celebrate Columbus Day and not Indigenous People's Day.
Related story on NowPublic by this Author: Celebrate Indigenous Peoples' Day - Annual Papal Bulls Burning
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Negros Oriental, Philippines