The Land of Emmett Till

As the United States demands apologies from Turkey …

lest we forget?

Dr. June Terpstra

….My students in colleges and universities in the USA typically do not know the history of the indigenous people of North America. They believe a lie told to them in the mandated public education programs that Columbus “discovered” America! They never heard of the Arawak, the Taino, the Algonquin, the Huron, or any of the tribes of the First Nation People. They are horrified to read the first source documents, the letters of Columbus, the letters of Bartolomeo Las Casas wherein the descriptions of the genocide, torture and terrorism of the natives is described.

For example, upon Columbus’ invasion, the Arawaks, regrettably, greeted the savage Europeans, bringing them food, water, and gifts. Columbus wrote in his log:

“As soon as I arrived in the Indies, on the first Island which I found, I took some of the natives by force in order that they might learn and might give me information of whatever there is in these parts…They… brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks’ bells. They willingly traded everything they owned…. They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features…. They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane…. They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” ( )

When Bartolomme Las Casa arrived on Hispaniola in 1508, he writes, “how “two of these so-called Christians met two Indian boys one day, each carrying a parrot; the soldiers took the parrots and for fun beheaded the boys…they suffered and died in the mines and other labors in desperate silence, knowing not a soul in the world to whom they could turn for help…there were 60,000 people living on this island including the Indians; from 1494 to 1508, over three million people had perished from war, slavery and the mines. Who in future generations will believe this? I myself writing it as a knowledgeable eyewitness can hardly believe it….” (Source: Bartoleme de Las Casas, Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies, 1542)

Most of my college students know nothing about the terrorism that led to extermination and removal of the American Indians. They are unaware of the conservative estimates that the indigenous population of the United States prior to European contact was greater than 12 million. Four centuries later, the count was reduced by 95% to 237 thousand.

Students in the USA are provided with a cursory history of Euro-American genocide and slavery of African people but not to any extent that includes the hundreds of Hollywood films, after-school specials, or school projects that prioritize the Jewish holocaust. Millions of black Americans were killed during the trans-Atlantic slave trade and during their servitude. They were systematically tortured, killed and enslaved. Forty thousand slaves were transported each year to the occupied territories called colonies. These were blatant and overt acts of terrorism for political gain. Yet African Americans are consistently told to “get over” their history of slavery and genocide at the hands of Euro-Americans.

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