Essay Example on The Indians and Human Progress Arawak men and Women

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Columbus The Indians and Human Progress Arawak men and women naked tawny and full of wonder emerged from their villages onto the island's beaches and swam out to get a closer look at the strange big boat When Columbus and his sailors came ashore carrying swords speaking oddly the Arawaks ran to greet them brought them food water gifts He later wrote of this in his log They brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks bells They willingly traded everything they owned They were well built with good bodies and handsome features They do not bear arms and do not know them for I showed them a sword they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance They have no iron Their spears are made of cane They would make fine servants With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want 



These Arawaks of the Bahama Islands were much like Indians on the mainland who were remarkable European observers were to say again and again for their hospitality their belief in sharing These traits did not stand out in the Europe of the Renaissance dominated as it was by the religion of popes the government of kings the frenzy for money that marked Western civilization and its first messenger to the Americas Christopher Columbus Columbus wrote As soon as I arrived in the Indies on the first Island which I found I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts The information that Columbus wanted most was Where is the gold He had persuaded the king and queen of Spain to finance an expedition to the lands the wealth he expected would be on the other side of the Atlantic the Indies and Asia gold and spices For like other informed people of his time he knew the world was round and he could sail west in order to get to the Far East Spain was recently unified one of the new modern nation states like France England and Portugal Its population mostly poor peasants worked for the nobility who were 2 percent of the population and owned 95 percent of the land Spain had tied itself to the Catholic Church expelled all the Jews driven out the Moors Like other states of the modern world Spain sought gold which was becoming the new mark of wealth more useful than land because it could buy anything There was gold in Asia it was thought and certainly silks and spices for Marco Polo and others had brought back marvelous things from their overland expeditions centuries before Now that the Turks had conquered Constantinople and the eastern Mediterranean and controlled the land routes to 



Asia a sea route was needed Portuguese sailors were working their way around the southern tip of Africa Spain decided to gamble on a long sail across an unknown ocean In return for bringing back gold and spices they promised Columbus 10 percent of the profits governorship over new found lands and the fame that would go with a new tide Admiral of the Ocean Sea He was a merchant's clerk from the Italian city of Genoa part time weaver the son of a skilled weaver and expert sailor He set out with three sailing ships the largest of which was the Santa Maria perhaps 100 feet long and thirty nine crew members Columbus would never have made it to Asia which was thousands of miles farther away than he had calculated imagining a smaller world He would have been doomed by that great expanse of sea But he was lucky One fourth of the way there he came upon an unknown uncharted land that lay between Europe and Asia the Americas It was early October 1492 and thirty three days since he and his crew had left the Canary Islands off the Atlantic coast of Africa Now they saw branches and sticks floating in the water They saw flocks of birds These were signs of land Then on October 12 a sailor called Rodrigo saw the early morning moon shining on white sands and cried out It was an island in the Bahamas the Caribbean sea The first man to sight land was supposed to get a yearly pension of 10 000 maravedis for life but Rodrigo never got it Columbus claimed he had seen a light the evening before He got the reward So approaching land they were met by the Arawak Indians who swam out to greet them The Arawaks lived in village communes had a developed agriculture of corn yams cassava They could spin and weave but they had no horses or work animals They had no iron but they wore tiny gold ornaments in their ears This was to have enormous consequences it led Columbus to take some of them aboard ship as prisoners because he insisted that they guide him to the source of the gold He then sailed to what is now Cuba then to Hispaniola the island which today consists of Haiti and the Dominican Republic There bits of visible gold in the rivers and a gold mask presented to Columbus by a local Indian chief led to wild visions of gold fields


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