CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS ON THE AMERICAN INDIAN
There has been some much-needed national publicity given recently to the wrongs inflicted by the American Government on its wards, the American Indians. In this connection, it is interesting to turn back the pages of history to the year 1492 and read about the Indians as they were at that time, as related by Christopher Columbus in a letter to the Spanish Court. The letter, which Columbus supposed he was writing from "the newly found islands of India beyond the Ganges," was in reality written from an island now know as one of the West Indies group.
Columbus wrote, "Weapons are entirely unknown among them. . . . This is not on account of physical faults, for they are strong and vigorous. . . . They are mild and trusting and very generous with anything they have. No one will refuse a thing he owns to another one who asks for it. In fact, they told us to ask for what we wanted. They conducted themselves with the greatest kindness toward everyone. . . . They are not idolaters. On the contrary, they believe that all power and strength and all that is good ...is in Heaven. . . . They are not stupid and rude, but shrewd and intelligent. And these people, who navigate the sea, inform themselves eagerly of whatever exists there. . . . I discovered no criminal among them in the ordinary sense of the word."
Surely the descendants of this early friendly race are entitled to every consideration of education and protection at the hands of the present rulers. Would they have welcomed Columbus so graciously, if they had possessed the power to look ahead into the future centuries and see the gradual extinction of their race?
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