Happy Columbus Day

Five hundred and twenty-six years ago Rodrigo de Triana spotted land at 2am from the Pinta’s lookout.

“Tierra, tierra.”

This shout woke his shipmates and the captain of this small caravel fired a cannon to announced the epic discovery of land. Later that day the three ships of Christopher Columbus or Cristoforo Colombo arrived at an island in what is now known as the Bahamas.

Rodrigo was in line the offered reward for first seeing land, however the Italian explorer refused to honor the claim, stating that ‘he saw “light” at 10 p.m. the previous day, “but it was so indistinct that he did not dare to affirm it was land.”

The New World was not empty of people and the Admiral of the Sea wrote his benefactors the King and Queen of Spain about the native Arawaks, “Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion.”

Thus began the long tragedy of extermination of the natives in the New World by explorers from the Old World, however this evil future does not detract from the greatness of Columbus’ journey into the unknown and I salute his seamanship, but not his stealing the prize money of first man to sight land from Rodrigo de Triana.

The more things change, the more they change to become the same, because history is always written by those who know to write what people want to believe – James Steele

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