Description of the Discovery

“Columbus’ Description of the Discovery of America 1492” 

“In order to win the friendship and affection of that people, and because I am convinced that their conversion to our Holy Faith would be better promoted through love than through force; I presented some of them with red caps and some strings of glass beads which they placed around their necks, and with other trifles of insignificant worth that delighted them and by which we have got a wonderful hold on their affections. They afterwards came to the boats of the vessels swimming, bringing us parrots, cotton thread in balls, and spears, and many other things which they bartered for others we gave them, as glass beads and little bells. . . . I saw but one very young girl, all the rest being very young men, none of them being over thirty years of age; their forms being very well proportioned; their bodies graceful and their features handsome: their hair is as course as the hair of a horse’s tail and cut short: they wear their hair over their eyebrows except a little behind which they wear long, and which they never cut: some of them paint themselves black, and they are of the color of the Canary islanders, neither black nor white, and some paint themselves white, and some red, and some with whatever they find, and some paint their faces and some the whole body, and some their eyes only, and some their noses only. They do not carry arms and have no knowledge of them, for when I showed them our swords they took them by the edge, and through ignorance, cut themselves. They have no iron; their spears consist of staffs without iron, some of them having a fish’s tooth at the end, and others other things. As a body they are of good size, good demeanor, and well formed.

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. . . They must be very good servants and very intelligent, because I see that they repeat very quickly what I told them, and it is my conviction that they would easily become Christians, for they seem not [to] have any sect. . . .” (Quoted From Christopher Columbus, Journals, Thursday, October 11, and Friday October 12, 1492).

•Discussion Question: How did the misconceptions Christopher Columbus had of the people he called “Indians” affect Europeans’ relationship with the indigenous people and their resources?

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