Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy in 1451. His father was a wool merchant and weaver. At the age of 13 he went to the sea and found sea journeys very exciting. For many years he tried to persuade kings and queens to give him money so he could be able to make a journey to find a new route for China. He was able to persuade King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to give him the money. But, in return he had to give them new lands, spices, gold, and new people to become christian. He made his journey to the new world with three ships: La niña, La Pinta, and the Santa Maria. On the 12th of October, 1492, La pinta arrived at what Columbus called San Salvador, which is now known as The Bahamas. Columbus thought he had arrived at the Indies, but he was wrong. He arrived at what today is called America.
Many people may say that he was the one to discover America, but he wasn’t. America was already a home to someone. America wasn’t discovered by the Spanish, it was discovered long before. A hero, as they have taught me, is someone who does good and who influences others to do good. It is someone who saves lives, not destroy lives. A hero doesn’t take away other people’s homes, nor obligates someone to believe something they don’t want to believe. Since the first day he encountered the Native people he already had in mind that they could serve as slaves; he wrote in his journal: “They should be good servants... I, our Lord being pleased, will take hence, at time of my departure, six natives for your Highness.” I believe this to be the highest level of selfishness, because if it wouldn’t have been for the Indians, the Spanish wouldn’t had survived. They taught the Spanish how to grow food using fish, how to hunt, they taught them to survive. And after they knew everything they had to know to survive, they backstabbed the Indians. They took away all of America’s gold, and even fooled the Indians that glass was more valuable than gold.
One journey to America wasn’t enough for the Spanish. They came back, and this time with 17 ships and more than 1,200 men. Their main goals where gold and slaves, they went to all the islands they could in the Caribbean capturing Indians. But the word spread easily, and they would find empty villages. Many slaves died in captivity, but those who didn’t died were supposed to be the best and were later on sold. During this terrible genocide, there were approximately 100 million native americans killed, and Columbus personally murdered half a million natives. How can this heartless men be called a hero? He might have supplied Europe with gold, land, power, and slaves, but that’s not what life is about. And those are not the things a hero care’s about. It disturbs me how they can teach kids in school that Columbus was just a good man who discovered America. Where is the other part of the story? Kids grow up believing that he was a hero, but that’s not what he was.
In "Lies My Teacher Told Me," James W. Loewen says "history must not judge Columbus by standards from our own time," but 500 years ago was genocide acceptable? According to Ward Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Colorado, North American Indian population during the 1500’s went from an estimated of 12 million to 237,000 in 1900. This is considered the worst holocaust in humanity. Hitler’s is not consider a hero by anyone, and Columbus is. But if you think about it, thousands of more people died because of Columbus than because of Hitler, so why is he really called a hero? A teacher I had in 8th grade told me horrible stories about how indians were killed by the Spanish. He told me that europeans would compete on who could kill more indians with one arrow at once. They would make them stand in a vertical line and the europeans one by one would shoot and see who could stab the most indians with just one arrow. I can’t even imagine how someone could be so empty and soulless to do that, and compete in this “game”.
When I first read about this side of the story, I felt disrespected by the Europeans because I am part of America and this people who died in such an unfair way could have been my ancestors. We can’t change what happened five hundred years ago, but we can change the way people see at Columbus. I think those who call Columbus a hero are not aware of what he was responsible for, because I don’t know anyone who would call a criminal like him a hero. Native Americans deserve their side of the story to be told too, they deserve to be heard.