Whether one's heritage is Native American or Italian, the day Columbus first encountered the land and people of the Americas was a momentous one. Yet the truth of both sides to this occasion and history must be fully told.
I remember learning and reciting, "In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." I still recall the names of the three ships of Columbus' first voyage-the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.
The first indigenous group encountered by Columbus was the 250,000 Taínos of Hispaniola. "Taíno" translates into "men of the good". Columbus described the Taínos as a physically tall, well-proportioned people, with a noble and kind personality.
In his diary, Columbus wrote:
"They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will ... they took great delight in pleasing us ... They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal...Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people ... They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing."
A tragic result of the "First Contact" between Columbus was massive death of the Taino by diseases such as typhus, measles and smallpox. Within thirty years of first contact, about 70% of the Taínos died from European diseases.
My heart is pulled in two directions on this holiday. I have both Italian and Native American ancestors. I share pride in both groups for their culture and contributions to the world today, and mourn the ways each has hurt the other over time.
I think Indigenous People or "first nations" groups and their culture and contributions should be celebrated. Yet the "discovery of America" and Columbus' bravery in navigating the round earth to experience First Contact is important, too.
Images courtesy of www.wikipedia.org.
Thanks for reading "Honor Both Indigenous Peoples, Columbus October 14"