Essay on Columbus: Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and European Explorers

Submitted By choi_rachel
Words: 482
Pages: 2

In the chapter “Columbus, the Indians and Human Progress”, Howard Zinn, the author, shows how the European explorers’ discovery of the Americas affected the natives of the newly found land. Despite the hospitality the natives came forward with, the Europeans killed them and erased their civilization. In some cases, the decline in the number of natives did not physically involve the Europeans at all. Although the explorers had variety of impact on the indigenous people, they all left similar significant mark: decrease in population.
Blinded by their craving for their needs, the explorers murdered the Native Americans and made excuses to justify their wrongdoings. For example, Columbus, with an excuse of having to pay back the investors of his exploration, ordered everybody of the age of fourteen or older in the province of Cicao on Haiti to collect a certain quantity of gold. When one failed to meet the requirement, he killed them. For instance, the king of the Aztec presented Cortés with massive treasures begging him to go back to his own civilization but he refused and began going around from town to town, turning the Aztecs against themselves. In the same way, Pizarro made the Incas of Peru betray each other “for gold, for slaves, for products of the soil, to pay the bondholders and stockholders of the expeditions, to finance the monarchical bureaucracies rising in Western Europe, to spur the growth of the new money economy rising out of feudalism, to participate in what Karl Marx would later call ‘the primitive accumulation of capital.’” As shown above, the Europeans caused the massacres under the name of the progress of their civilizations and their own benefits.
As result of the massacres, the explorers caused some civilizations to go extinct. For instance, Cortes terminated the Aztecs using betrayal and technological advantages. One of the many ways that Cortes used to annihilate the Aztecs involved gathering thousands of unarmed civilians to the center and using