Rethinking Christopher Columbus Essay

1669 words - 7 pages

As educators it is important that we analyze the materials that we use in our classrooms to provide our students with anti-bias and anti-stereotype curricula. Analyzing our materials so that they are anti-bias and anti-stereotype provides our students with factual historical accounts and teaches our students to see things from multiple perspectives. As a result of this, our students will view the world in a different way, as well as think critically about things. One historical account that is often portrayed from one perspective is Christopher Columbus’ “discovery” of the new world.

One piece of Children’s literature that presents Columbus’ voyage in a more factual way than I have experienced in the past is Christopher Columbus: Sailing To A New World by Adrianna Morganelli; however, the book still does provide some ambiguity of Columbus’ account. This literary work provides information ranging from Columbus’ biography to the Spanish conquest after Columbus’ voyages. In this book, it not only tells the story of Columbus’ voyage from his side, but also provides information about the Native people and how the Europeans conquered them. This helps provide the reader with multiple perspectives of the account and not just from the Eurocentric point of view. Furthermore, at the end of the book the author provides a disclaimer about the information presented in the book. The disclaimer mentions how most of the information in the book was based on journal and first hand accounts that the European explorers sent back to the king in Spain. In addition it talks about how there were no cameras in the time period so the illustrations are based on the information in the book and may not be accurately portrayed.

Even though the book provides some factual information about Columbus’ voyage the book presents a lot of ambiguity when it comes to Columbus’ treatment of the Tainos. This book’s makes Columbus’ interaction with the Tainos seem harmless. It does not mention that he enslaved the Tainos to search for gold or the horrible methods he used to force them to find gold. Most of the responsibility for the maltreatment of the Tainos is placed on other people rather than Columbus. For example, the book states, “Columbus learned from the Taino that while he had been away, his crew mistreated the natives and demanded from them more gold than they were able to give” (Morganelli, 2005, pg. 20). This account puts the responsibility of maltreatment on Columbus’ crew rather than Columbus. When in fact, Columbus treated the Tainos in horrible ways to receive gold from them. According to Bigelow (1998), “Every man and woman, boy or girl of fourteen or older…had to collect gold for the Spaniards. There were no gold fields, and thus, once the Indians had handed in whatever they still had in gold ornaments, their only hope was to work all day in the streams, washing out gold dust from the pebbles. It was an impossible task, but those Indians who tried to flee into the...

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