Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Christopher Columbus - No Love Here

We are not big fans here in the Swamp of Christopher Columbus. By that I mean Me in particular. Despite being of partial Spanish decent I do not take any enjoyment in that Columbus stumbled onto the so called “New World”.

Map of the New World by Munster, Circa 1550 AD. Stolen from the Hargrett Library web site (http://www.libs.uga.edu/darchive/hargrett/maps/neworld.html)

The discovery by Columbus was more of an accident than anything and the advent of Europeans in large numbers to the America’s was a huge travesty since they came looking mainly for plunder of one nature or another. Even the puritanical Puritans on the Mayflower did not arrive on North American shores without at least some debt that required the plunder of the New World as retribution. And my Mothers People were never the same again.

Now, the so called New World was a tad backward compared with the European model. The natives did not use the wheel in too many things, they did not work with hard metals, they did not know how to forge iron but they did work in gold and silver into jewelry. There is no doubt about their IQ as we pretty much use their calendar today and some of their time tables were accurate right up to when computers became available to calculate large numbers. They had no knowledge of gun powder or fire arms of any kind, their disputes were handled on a more personal nature. As a result large scale warfare almost never happened unlike in Europe where warfare was a way of life for many peoples.

The Natives did know their environment and despite large numbers of population they did not degrade or deplete too much of the earth around them. The population of the Natives of the New World has always been in dispute, somewhere between 30 and 60 million. Since they were not immune to diseases native to Europe and Africa there were large die off’s of Natives spurred by first contact. In most cases the disease spread ahead of the European’s who observed and recorded what they say and wrote the history of the America’s. The Natives depleted by the disease were recorded as not being here at all.

And that folks is my rub. Most history of the Natives of the America’s has been written by those who came here and had no background on the culture and society that was present on “discovery”.

Many names for the People’s are derived not from their own name but from what the Spanish, French or English took to calling them. Ask the Navajo, the Sioux or the Blackfeet what they were called before their contact with Europeans. I know where my Mothers’ people get their name. The Apache’s did not call themselves Apache, that name was derived from the Zuni Indian word that the Spanish called the people. Seems the Apache did not care too much for the Spanish on their horses, wearing all that armor, pushing religion on everyone they came upon. So the Apache fought the Spanish, attacking them where ever they came together. And the Apache roamed almost the entire southwest so there was a lot of contact, none of it good. The word Apache is the word for Enemy which is what the Spanish called the people.

So, I guess I have an identity crisis in full bloom here. The Spanish is shamed by their involvement with the Apache side. And I can’t even tell you how much conflict there is from my Father’s side of the ledger.

So, I skip celebrating the Italian who came here for the Spanish crown and the Holy Roman Empire. IMHO his only positive contribution to the World at large was in being brave enough to continue west on the ocean in hopes the world was not flat.

BT: Jimmy T sends.

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