Essay Sample on Christopher Columbus & Bartolome de Las Casas: Meeting the Arawak

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  618 Words
Date:  2023-04-23

Christopher Columbus' account on meeting the Arawak for the first time is largely consistent with the facts recorded in the documents written by Bartolome de Las Casas. Both Columbus and Las Casas in their writings describe the Arawak as kind and ignorant. They agree that the Arawak people were full of awe when they saw the ship used by the sailors and that they welcomed the visitors, readily giving them water, food, and other gifts despite their strange appearance and language (Zinn 1).

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Moreover, it comes out from the writings of both explorers that Columbus and his crew members were only concerned about one thing when they met the Arawak - where they could find gold. As a result, they captured the tribesmen and forced them to direct the expedition to the source of the gold they wore in their ears. Besides, Las Casas adds that with a subsequent trip to the Americas, Columbus and his team faced greater pressure for larger amounts of gold. Hence they resorted to the inhumane treatment of the Arawak people and other communities they found in the Americas to attain this ambition.

However, the writings approached the facts and events of the European expedition in the Americas from two different perspectives. Columbus wrote his logs with the intention of persuading the Spanish government and king to invest more resources in his subsequent journeys to maximize in terms of gold, slaves, metals, and spices (Symcox and Sullivan 44). Therefore, he exaggerated he gave an exaggerated report, suggesting that all the rivers and the mountains in the Americas had lots of gold and other metals. Las Casas, in his documents, faults these Columbus' claims as he explains that all the gold in the land of the Arawak were almost exhausted in their second trip to the Bahamas (Zinn 1). Later, the explorers degenerated to capturing the locals as slaves to compensate for diminishing returns in the form of gold.

From these documents, it is clear that the interest of the Spanish and other Europeans in the Americas was to find gold and other valuable wealth for their development at home. Columbus and the 39 crew members who had traveled with his in the initial exploration were on their way to Asia to look for gold to boost the economy of Spain when they bumped into the Americas (Symcox and Sullivan 43). Their journey had been commissioned by the King of Spain who promised Columbus control of the captured lands as a reward for bringing back gold and spices.

At the time when Europeans began to enter the Americas, countries like Portugal, England, France, and Spain had unified to form modern nations governed by kings and the church (Symcox and Sullivan 49). Notably, their nations were poor because all the land belonged to the nobility (Symcox and Sullivan 50). That means nearly all the rest of the people were left poor and had to farm for the few landowners to earn a living. Gold was quickly becoming proving to be a more useful mark of wealth than land because it was easy to trade for any commodity.

Lastly, besides the gold in the Americas, the economic systems of the newly founded nations were heavily dependent on agriculture. It was many years before the industrial revolution; therefore, much human labor was required to increase production. Hence, the Europeans also found the Indians useful for slave labor because as both Columbus and Las Casas point out, both their men and women looked strong and able-bodied.

Works Cited

Symcox, Geoffrey, and Blair Sullivan. "Christopher Columbus." Christopher Columbus and the Enterprise of the Indies, 2005, pp. 43-59.

Zinn, Howard. "Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress." History Is A Weapon, Accessed 11 Mar. 2020.

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Essay Sample on Christopher Columbus & Bartolome de Las Casas: Meeting the Arawak. (2023, Apr 23). Retrieved from

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