Thesis: Earth, as the People of the Old

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¶ … earth, as the people of the old world had come to meet the ones from the new one on the American continent. The island of Hispaniola had been the place to host the meeting between the natives and the Europeans. The people on the island had been accustomed with invaders, as numerous tribes had succeeded in raiding the island over the centuries. However, Columbus and his people were obviously different from the ones that came before them, and, the fates of the natives had been changed forever with the coming of the Europeans.

Hispaniola, the second largest island from the Antilles, received its name from Christopher Columbus at the time that he first discovered the new continent. The island had been inhabited by the American-Indians that were a result of the blending of the numerous waves of immigrants coming from all over the continent. The people believed to have witnessed Columbus's landing in America are considered to have been the Taino Indians.

As they had just begun to sail around the world, the European nation-states had reached the Caribbean Sea, where an unknown continent awaited for them. It was in 1492 when a handful of Europeans had inspired from the Portuguese to set sail in hope that they will find great fortunes. Led by Genoese Christopher Columbus, the ninety sailors initially wanted to find an alternative route that would take them to Japan. The expedition had been funded by various royalties in Spain and by the sailors themselves. No one actually knew the distance that they had to travel from Spain to Japan by sea and most presumptions had been far from the reality.

When the three ships (the Pinta, the Nina, and the Santa Maria) that left Spain eventually reached land after a month of sailing, they realized that the territory they discovered had been nothing as what they believed it would be. Instead of the great kingdoms described by various European travelers that journeyed East, Columbus found a great number of tropical islands inhabited by people that no one had ever seen or heard of before.

The European sailors originally mistook the natives for Indians, as they believed that they had reached India instead of Japan. The respective mistake had actually been one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind. The so-called Indians were spread across the archipelago, inhabiting most islands there. While most documents relate to the early American-Indians as behaving primitive and being savages, the reality had been different. "In the five hundred years before the European explorers' arrival, elaborate and complex social and political institutions had developed in the Caribbean societies, especially in Puerto Rico and Hispaniola" (Wilson, pp. 2) Most people believe that the political and social advancements experienced by the people inhabiting Hispaniola had been brought from inside the continent, from the great civilizations. In reality, the natives living on the Hispaniola had actually developed their culture in the Caribbean.

The people on Hispaniola called themselves Taino, which translates as either "good," "noble," or "prudent." As the Europeans came on the island, the locals welcomed them with numerous gifts, proving to be peaceful and hospitable. Spanish chroniclers have also confirmed the peaceful nature that the locals had, as they claimed that the Taino Indians never engaged in arguments between themselves. Despite the fact that there is a lot of controversy concerning the number of people living on the island at the time when Columbus landed, recent estimates point to several million Taino living on Hispaniola around 1500.

Before encountering the island of Hispaniola, Columbus visited several other islands, but, none of them presented any value to the Spaniards. In contrast, the island of Hispaniola seemed to be the perfect place to colonize and to exploit. The fact that its inhabitants had been generous and naive led the Spanish in believing that they had been easier to conquer and to subject. Columbus himself had been amazed of the island's potential and of the kindness of its inhabitants. Consequent to his arrival on the island on the 5th of December, 1492, Columbus spent the next days meeting several of the island's chieftains and exchanging presents with the locals. However, being anxious to let the rest of the world know about his discovery, he had been determined to leave as soon as he could, in order to return with an even bigger crew that could carry more riches from the newly discovered land.

After an unfortunate chain of events, Santa Maria became stranded on a sand bank and the ship was rendered motionless, with no chance for it to be recovered. All of the valuables on the ship had been saved rapidly with the help of the locals. Seeing that fate had acted against them, and being aware that he could not take all of his men back to Spain, Columbus decided to establish a colony on the island. Thirty-eight of Columbus's men remained in the settlement called Navidad, hoping that they would accumulate great fortunes during their stay on the island. The colony had been surrounded by a fort built from Santa Maria's timbers, in spite of the fact that Columbus had been certain that it would have no actual use.

Finally, on the 4th of January, Columbus took what had remained of his men and left the island of Hispaniola. Subsequent to his departure, the Spaniards on the islands proved that they did not posses diplomatic abilities as they fought each-other and mistreated the locals. They had not managed to gather gold in great amounts, since they spent most of their time slugging and enjoying the hospitality of their hosts.

The colony of Navidad had been the opposite of what Columbus intended it to be, with the colonists altering the diplomatic relations with the locals and refraining from looking for gold. After several instances in which the colonists have shown their disrespect towards the locals, the latter had decided that they would no longer withstand being humiliated. As a result, the colony of Navidad had been destroyed, and, all of the thirty eight settlers living there had been murdered by the natives.

Returning in November 1493 to find his colony destroyed, Columbus decided not to act against the locals, given that he had more important actions to perform. As he had brought a large fleet, he immediately began to search for a proper place for a colony to be established. The territory chosen to hold the first Euro-American city had been approximately one hundred kilometers from the ruins at Navidad. Wanting to please the Spanish king and queen, Columbus named the town Isabela. In spite of the fact that the town's grounds would presumably be fertile and welcoming for the Europeans, it proved to be opposite to that. It did not take long before the Spanish had finished all of their supplies and started to eat local food. The island's food proved to be unhealthy for them and disease spread all over the camp forcing a great number of Columbus's men to stay in bed. Columbus never seemed like he had really been interested in something else rather than finding gold. The town itself had been built on unfertile terrain because Columbus believed that gold sources had been near it. Moreover, he still dreamed about the great riches that the Asian continent held, and about how he had been supposed to discover them. In search of an even greater glory, he set sail from Isabela towards the west, where he hoped to find Asia. His journey would only bring him more despair and disappointment, as he did not find the Asian continent and he returned to see most of his men suffering.

Seeing that the situation was desperate and that his men had been demoralized, Columbus organized a series of campaigns with the intention of scaring the locals into submission. Determined to accomplishing their goals, the Spaniards did not pay attention to the suffering that they provoked as they swept through the island. Despite of the fact that they did not initially understand that the Europeans had only been interested in riches, the Taino Indians later realized that the invaders had been their enemies.

Being motivated by the performances undergone by the Spaniards during the previous years, the Taino Indians had organized themselves in hope that they would succeed in defeating the invaders. The first campaigns against the Spaniards had not been effective, with the Taino Indians having little to no success at waging war against the more advanced Spanish forces. Numerous Taino leaders have perished as a result of the fighting and the Taino political system has been seriously shaken. In the later rebellions that the Taino Indians had organized, matters became even worse, as their military force had been seriously affected by the diseases that the Europeans had brought and by the earlier battles.

There is a lot of controversy revolving around the number of Taino Indians that have perished in the years following the coming of the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Earth, as the People of the Old.  (2009, June 14).  Retrieved May 20, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/earth-people-old/3239079

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"Earth, as the People of the Old."  Essaytown.com.  June 14, 2009.  Accessed May 20, 2019.
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