09 October 2015

Columbus Discovers Haiti 1492

Lies My Teacher Told Me by James Loewen, 1995, Excerpts

When Columbus reached Haiti, he found the Arawaks in possession of some spear points made of “guanine.” The Indians said they got them from black traders who had come from the south and east. Guanine proved to be an alloy of gold, silver, and copper, identical to the gold alloy preferred by West Africans, who also called it “guanine.”

Columbus: “I was very attentive to them, and strove to learn if they had any gold. Seeing some of them with little bits of metal hanging at their noses, I gathered from them by signs that by going southward or steering round the island in that direction, there would be found a king who possessed great cups full of gold.” At dawn the next day, Columbus sailed to the other side of the island, probably one of the Bahamas, and saw two or three villages. He ended his description of them with these menacing words: “I could conquer the whole of them with fifty men and govern them as I pleased.”

On his first voyage, Columbus kidnapped some ten to twenty-five Indians and took them back with him to Spain. Only seven or eight of the Indians arrived alive, but along with the parrots, gold trinkets, and other exotica, they caused quite a stir in Seville. Ferdinand and Isabella provided Columbus with seventeen ships, 1,200 to 1,500 men, cannons, crossbows, guns, cavalry, and attack dogs for a second voyage.

No comments: