When England replaced Spain as the dominant European colonial power in the 17th century, the British proved to be equally as vicious and destructive in their conquest of North America as the Spanish had been in the South.
What’s uniquely tragic in regards to the British colonization of North America is the fact that the very people the British described as “Indian savages” were the very same people to whom they owed their very own survival to in these unknown lands.
From the first English settlement in what is now the state of Virginia the Brits ransacked and looted entire villages of Native indigenous tribes.
When the British settlers first arrived they were so feeble that they would have died of starvation were it not for the generosity of the Native American Indians. And yet, in a betrayal of epic proportions, the Brits soon were torching the Native American Indians’ crops; a sick and sadistic method used to starve and rob them of their resources.
And so it was for the next four centuries, starting with the great Powhatan Confederation in Virginia and moving on to the Pequot Tribe in Massachusetts, that each North American Nation or Tribe from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific came face to face with and were assaulted by the European invaders – or their descendants who were calling themselves “Americans” under the banner of the “United States of America.”
Many tribes formed Organized Resistance Movements to these attacks on their homeland and way of life, and they continue to fight against the threat of annihilation to the present day. That they have managed to survive against what at times seemed like insurmountable odds is truly a testament to their strength and perseverance as a people.
For what was done to them was genocide carried out on such a large scale, the magnitude of it which is hard to comprehend even in our present day. Consider for a moment that approximately 50-75 million indigenous people inhabited the American continent from North to South at the dawn of the 16th century (i.e. the year 1500).
Within one-hundred years, in the year 1600, there were only 8 million of these indigenous peoples left on the entire continents, the population having been dramatically diminished due to “European warfare, disease and forced labor.”
In North America alone, where prior to Columbus-era ‘New World’ exploration up to 10 million natives had resided, the population shrunk to less than a million indigenous people at one point in time.
There are currently close to about 3 million people residing within the United States who are direct descendants of the original indigenous populations.
Over the years Euro-centric historians have tried, to varying degrees of success, to absolve Christopher Columbus of all of his crimes against humanity that his was (and still is) guilty of.
They’ve had several methods of doing this. One is by rationalizing his actions by urging audiences to consider “the times” in which he lived. In their view the wave of genocidal massacres and human enslavement he brought about simply doesn’t match up to all the “good” he’s done for the world.
They wonder, “How could the fact that he and his followers destroyed numerous civilizations to succeed at their goals negate the fact that he discovered America?”
Those who choose to excuse or explain away the attempted annihilation of the original indigenous American population are the same people who in modern times attempt to justify the United States’ never-ending cycle of War, be it in Vietnam, Libya, Afghanistan, or Iraq.
They are the same people who would attempt to justify Israeli colonization of Palestine, and not so very long ago would have tried to justify racial apartheid in South Africa.
What the Portuguese did to the Africans of the continental West Coast and what Columbus and the Spanish did to the Native ‘Indians’ of the Caribbean Islands were precursors to all the atrocities of the world to come.
These terrorist campaigns of enslavement and murder brought the world into a new era of Imperialism the likes of which it had never seen before, setting the course for the 1788 British invasion of Australia and the genocide of its original people.
Centuries of persecution of Africans and their descendants in the Americas – especially in the United States, the use of Atomic bombs to devastate the Japanese populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and so many atrocities too numerous to name.
While it is true that all of these events cannot be laid directly at the feet of Columbus alone, it is without question worthy of consideration what kind of world we would live in today had Christopher Columbus never accidentally came upon the ‘New World’.
That the world would be a much more peaceful place is painstakingly obvious to any objective observer.
In the final analysis, however, it’s best to take Columbus out of the context of being one singular man and instead view him as being emblematic of all of Europe’s hopes and aspirations for global domination and supremacy in the 15th century and the centuries that followed.
Europe was, more than any other place in the world at that time, home to the most anti-egalitarian societies imaginable. It was the harshest of all continents to live in, hampered by “famine, pestilence, war and death… from the 14th and 15th century.”
The wealth gap between the rich and the poor, as in many countries around the world today, was extraordinary.
Because of the ruthless campaigns carried out on behalf of Europe’s wealthy and elite, first by Columbus and then by the conquerors who followed in his footsteps, an entire millennia’s worth of pain, misfortune, inequality and suffering was exported from within the confines of Europe’s borders and spread into every region and corner of the globe.
This is the true story of how the world we currently live in came to be.
Caleb G / ABC Flash Point News 2020.