The 1st encomiendas were handed out by Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean

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The Encomienda System:





The 1st encomiendas were handed out by Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean.

Spanish conquistadors, settlers, and colonial officials were given grants of land. The land included any native cities, towns, communities or families that lived there. The natives were supposed to provide tribute (payment), in the form of gold or silver, crops and foods, animals such as pigs or llamas or anything else the land produced. The natives could also be made to work for a certain amount of time. In return, the owner, or encomendero, was responsible for the well-being of his subjects and was to help convert them to Christianity. The lands were often run by cruel overseers who often demanded extra tribute themselves, making the lives of the natives even more miserable.

1. Describe what is happening in the four quadrants of the painting. 

    1. Quadrant 1: ____________________________________________________________________

    2. Quadrant 2: ____________________________________________________________________

    3. Quadrant 3: ____________________________________________________________________

    4. Quadrant 4: ____________________________________________________________________


2. Choose three words from the picture and guess at its meaning based on the action in the picture.

_______________ means ______________________________________________________

_______________ means ______________________________________________________

_______________ means ______________________________________________________

Bartolomé de las Casas

Bartolomé de las Casas, a Dominican priest, writer, and activist for the protection of the native people of the Americas, was one of the most important religious figures of the 16th-century Spanish world. As Spain struggled to develop a policy regarding the peoples of the New World, Las Casas, spent years attempting to show the abuses that the native population recieved to under the encomienda system. He also devoted a great deal of energy trying to convince the Spanish Crown that its mission to spread the Christian faith in the Americas did not have to deny native people of their freedom, independence, and property rights.
“On the mainland, we know for sure that our fellow-countrymen have, through their cruelty and wickedness, depopulated and laid waste an area which once boasted more than ten kingdoms, each of them larger in area than the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. The whole region, once teeming with human beings, is now deserted over a distance of more than two thousand leagues: a distance, that is, greater than the journey from Seville to Jerusalem and back again.

At a conservative estimate, the despotic and diabolical behavior of the Christians has, over the last forty years, led to the unjust and totally unwarranted deaths of more than twelve million souls, women and children among them, and there are grounds for believing my own estimate of more than fifteen million to be nearer the mark…

The reason the Christians have murdered on such a vast scale and killed anyone and everyone in their way is purely and simply greed. They have set out to line their pockets with gold and to amass private fortunes as quickly as possible so that they can then assume a status quite at odds with that into which they were born.”
-A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies, Bartolome de las Casas

1. How does Bartolome de las Casas feel about the treatment of South & Central Americans?

List words from the excerpt that tell you.
2. What were some of the effects of Spanish colonization in South and Central America?

3. What does de las Casas blame as the cause for such poor treatment of Native Americans?


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