Happy Hatuey day

It seems that Christopher Columbus is not as popular as he used to be:

This year’s Columbus Day holiday will have a slightly different, more Native flavor in the city of Seattle. Thanks to a unanimous vote this summer by the city council, the federal holiday will now be known by a different name: Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

Seattle isn’t the first place to give the holiday a makeover. Earlier this year, the Minneapolis City Council also renamed Columbus Day Indigenous Peoples’ Day. South Dakota celebrates Native American Day in “remembrance of the great Native American leaders who contributed so much to the history of our state.” Hawaii observes Discoverers’ Day in which Polynesian explorers are honored.

You can understand why using the words of Columbus:

I saw some with marks of wounds on their bodies, and I made signs to. ask what it was, and they gave me to understand that people from other adjacent islands came with the intention of seizing them, and that they defended themselves. I believed, and still believe, that they come here from the mainland to take them prisoners. They should be good servants and intelligent, for I observed that they quickly took in what was said to them, and I believe that they would easily be made Christians, as it appeared to me that they had no religion. I, our Lord being pleased, will take hence, at the time of my departure, six natives for your Highnesses, that they may learn to speak.

Columbus finds the natives a peaceful  and intelligent, so he thinks they would make good slaves.

They brought skeins of cotton thread, parrots, darts, and other small things which it would be tedious to recount, and they give all in exchange for anything that may be given to them. I was attentive, and took trouble to ascertain if there was gold. I saw that some of them had a small piece fastened in a hole they have in the nose, and by signs I was able to make out that to the south, or going from the island to the south, there was a king who had great cups full, and who possessed a great quantity. I tried to get them to go there, but afterwards I saw that they had no inclination. I resolved to wait until to-morrow in the afternoon and then to depart, shaping a course to the S.W., for, according to what many of them told me there was land to the S., to the S.W., and N.W., and that the natives from the N.W. often came to attack them, and went on to the S.W. in search of gold and precious stones.

He learns that there is gold held by some of the tribes and resolves to take it.

for these people are very simple as regards the use of arms, as your Highnesses will see from the seven that I caused to be taken, to bring home and leaning our language and return ; unless your Highnesses should order them all to be brought to Castile, or to be kept as captives on the same island; for with fifty men they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them.

He finds that they aren’t very warlike and so could all be easily conquered and brought into slavery.

What a wonderful person to have a holiday for (there’s a nice recap here or here). As an aside, when Columbus arrived in Hispaniola there were somewhere between 100,000 and 1,000,000 Taino. There were estimated to be about 500 fifty years later (to be fair, many of the deaths were due to disease such as smallpox that were brought to the ‘New World’).

I think we should instead have a holiday for Hatuey (or go see an earlier post):

He showed the Taíno of Caobana a basket of gold and jewels, saying:

Here is the God the Spaniards worship. For these they fight and kill; for these they persecute us and that is why we have to throw them into the sea… They tell us, these tyrants, that they adore a God of peace and equality, and yet they usurp our land and make us their slaves. They speak to us of an immortal soul and of their eternal rewards and punishments, and yet they rob our belongings, seduce our women, violate our daughters. Incapable of matching us in valor, these cowards cover themselves with iron that our weapons cannot break.

 

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