Howard Zinn on Colonization

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Though a vast majority of students learn about Columbus’ great conquests and celebrate him as a hero, very few know of the horrible atrocities he caused when he first landed in America. While considered a hero by most in the United States, Zinn argues that people should think twice about Columbus’ actions, and question whether his behavior to the Indians was necessary. In quotes one and five, Zinn clearly depicts his thoughts on the atrocities done by Columbus and other colonists to the natives living in America. Zinn first refers to the author Morrison and how he deals with who Columbus really was. Instead of “[lying] outright about the past” or “[omitting] facts, which might lead to unacceptable conclusions,” Morrison tells the…show more content…
In certain circumstances, bets were made between soldiers “as to who, with one stroke of the sword, could split a man in two.” Other soldiers would throw children of a village they sacked into a river by their feet, shouting, “Boil there, you offspring of the devil!”
Later on, as more colonists came to the new world, even more Indians were killed. When missionaries tried to convert the Indians, there were miscommunications over the teachings, which lead to even more deaths. When pictures of Mary and other religious symbols were given to the Native Americans, they buried them so as to ask God for a good harvest. The colonists interpreted this as denying the Christian faith, and therefore burned the Indians at the stake, so as to purify their souls. The actions of the missionaries and other colonists were so evil that when an Indian was being burned at the stake, he “asked the Franciscan friar if Christians all went to Heaven. When told that they did, [the Indian] said he would prefer to go to Hell.” The horrible atrocities that the European settlers brought upon the Indians were awful. It decimated the population, leaving less than one tenth of the Indians living compared to the amount before Columbus found America.
Later on in A People’s History of the United States, Zinn questions whether “all this bloodshed and deceit – from Columbus to Cortez, Pizarro, the Puritans – [was] a necessity for the human race to progress from savagery to civilization.” Zinn
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