Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Chapter 1: Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress.

The author's thesis in this article is about how the Americas came to be through the harsh genocide of the various
Indians that were first settled here before Columbus' discovery.

The argument that Howard Zimm presented was that the way America was taken over by the Europeans were harsh
and inhumane on many different levels. The Indians are a simple group of people, depending on natural resources for food and shelter. When the Europeans came to their land, they were not hostile and offered anything they owned to
the newcomers to their land. One example of how the Arawaks were treated by Columbus and the rest of the settler's consisted of when Columbus needed to bring back to England more gold those who invested in this expedition, and he
forced any Indians age fourteen or older to go hunting for gold every three months. If they brought back a good share, they were given a copper pendant to wear, which ensured their safety for the time being. During this time, Indians that
were found and not wearing a copper necklace had their hands cut off and left to bleed to death. Between Columbus and the Arawaks, Cortes and the Aztecs, Pizarro and the Incas, and the English settlers of Virginia and Massachusetts to the Powhatans and the Pequots, the way they were treated and conquered were relatively the same.

The author states in the article that "I prefer to try to tell the story of the discovery of America from the viewpoint of the Arawaks, of the Constitution from the standpoint of the slaves…" (Zimm 11). In this case, I agree with the author and how he wishes to write about the history of America from the opposite view than the "executioners". Though it is important to have an accurate viewpoint of history from whence we originated from, it is also equally important to know and understand the
opposing side of the battle, in this case, the Indians that were quite literally wiped out due to the conquest of North America. This argument would be applied to anything that would be against how the textbooks in middle and high school perceive history through solely the eyes of the conquerors. What the textbooks and history class in grade school lead people to believe is that Columbus is a hero, and he discovered the Americas which in turn opened up a vast amount of opportunities for trade and natural resources, let alone developing an entirely new settlement which expanded to what is now the United
States. All of the above may be true, but the textbooks describe the hostile nature the expeditionary had towards the Indians to be very subtle and obsolete in comparison to this discovery. For history to be more accurate, I believe that both sides of the story must be represented equally in order for the entire truth to be exposed.

I found the article to be very interesting and informative. Some of the events during the expedition of America that were explained in the article I had not known about beforehand, and found it intriguing. I also completely agree on the author's beliefs that history should be taught with both sides of the fight explained in equal detail, because in the long run the truth about the history of America will be much more accurate as opposed to just having one side of the fight revealed. Even though discovering the America's and developing a whole new settlement was a spectacular event in history, I believe that the means of which it was acquired were inhumane. Because of the practical genocide of what happened during that time period, we lost and experiencing living with those Indian tribes, and learning/sharing cultures with each other. I think that things
could have been handled differently and in a more peaceful manner between the Indians and the other discoverer, and in turn we would still have a relatively decent amount of those Indians still around today.