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Period of the Indians Discovery by Christopher Columbus Essay (Book Review)

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Updated: Aug 5th, 2021

The current paper aims at discussing three readings about the period when the Indians were discovered by Christopher Columbus and the challenges those people had to survive during the next century. Each extract from the letters is a unique opportunity to learn and try to understand the past and history.

“The Diario of Christopher Columbus (October 11-15, 1492)” is the story of how the Admiral (Columbus) found the land and entered and changed considerably the lives of many Indians (as he thought they were). The events described in the story took place on Thursday, October 11, 1942 – Monday, October 15, 1942. Those five days were the acquaintance with new people, their traditions, styles of life, living conditions, and knowledge.

Several names were mentioned in the letters such as sailor Rodrigo de Triana, steward Pero Guitierrez, caravel Pinta, etc. All those members of the ships got a chance to observe the Indians (as they believed), “young people, for none… of more than 30 years of age… very well-formed, with handsome bodies and good faces” (“The Diario of Christopher Columbus (October 11-15, 1492)” 32). The author paid much attention to the details about how the strangers looked, where they lived, and how they behaved. The Indians demonstrated themselves as rather friendly and eager to communicate with people.

They wanted to take something from the strangers but always gave something in return (not to be bound to someone or something). This reading helps to understand that the intentions of the Indians discovered by Columbus were good indeed. They truly believed in God and were thankful for a chance to meet new people and develop new relations. Still, they could not even guess how stressful and unpredictable the discovery of their land turned out to be.

The next reading, “Bartolome de Las Casas, the Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account (1542)” describes the events that took place one century after. The Spaniards could leave a new land without their attention. They came with “the intention of settling the land” (“Bartolome de Las Casas, the Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account (1542)” 35). The Indians, as the people, who were “the most guileless, the most devoid of wickedness and duplicity, the most obedient and faithful to their native masters” (“Bartolome de Las Casas, the Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account (1542)” 36), suffered from the cruelty of the aggressors.

They were not able to live their ordinary lives. They had to survive. This is what the chosen reading means. People cannot even guess how cruel they can be even if they stay loyal to their faith and traditions. People are cruel by their nature; still, they can use their characteristics in different ways against or for other people.

At the same time, the third reading, “Bartolome de Las Casas, In Defense of the Indians (1550)”, explains what can be expected from the situation when one group of people interrupted the lives of other people and wanted to introduce their rules and demands as something that could not be resisted. It was hard for the Indians to be “to the point of extermination” with “the most flourishing empire of the New World” (“Bartolome de Las Casas, In Defense of the Indians (1550)” 44).

It is hard to be poorly understood or misunderstood at all. The Indians made a mistake of being discovered by the Spaniards, and the Spaniards and their king made a mistake of being confident that all people had to be enslaved. However, if such mistakes had not been done, it could be hard to predict the possible development of the events and the outcomes of the historical changes.

In general, all three readings help to comprehend one simple truth – the history is cruel, and people had to understand their opportunities and rights to learn from the experience they got.

Works Cited

“Bartolome de Las Casas, In Defense of the Indians (1550).” Voices of a People’s History of the United States. Ed. Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2009. 42-45. Print.

“Bartolome de Las Casas, the Devastation of the Indies: A Brief Account (1542).” Voices of a People’s History of the United States. Ed. Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2009. 35-42. Print.

“The Diario of Christopher Columbus (1492).” Voices of a People’s History of the United States. Ed. Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2009. 30-35. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Period of the Indians Discovery by Christopher Columbus'. 5 August.

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