Columbus… Hero or Genocidal Maniac?


Well, you know, research can be a strange bedfellow sometimes, and this bit of research and historical account is something that I bet you’ll not read in any history book — unless you really search for it.

It’s not a nice piece of history, all decked out with ribbons and glory, but having learned of this through some research — and with Columbus day having just passed — I thought I’d post this piece, although it might be one of the most unpopular blogs I’ve done.  Some things, however, should be known.

But before I go into this in any detail, let me say that I will be giving away a free tradepaper copy of RED HAWK’S WOMAN today.  Please refer to our contest rules (link is at the bottom of this page in my bio).

th[2]That said, let’s get on with the subject of this blog today.  Columbus.

I had run across this research originally several years ago — but not in any detail, and certainly not enough information to do a blog.  But recently, I’ve had my nose in history and other such things, and this popped up again.  Thus, my post today.

I guess we’ll start with the brothers Christopher and Bartholomew Columbus and their second trip to the Americas.  One thing I hadn’t been aware of and probably other people aren’t either, is that Christopher had a brother who sailed with him.  Another fact that many are not aware of is that these brothers were not Spanish, but were Italians.  And although this next part is generally known to the American Indian, it gets no “press” in the educational system, and so this information might seem strange to you at first.

columbus_on_hispaniola[1]The fact of the matter is that these two people were responsible for the mass murder of about two million Taino people who were living on the island of Hispaniola.  Some estimates are higher at about 3 million people.  They accomplished this terrible crime in approximately four years, but the crux of the story is not only the genocide (which is bad enough), but the bestiality by which they accomplished this act.  Another fact that isn’t well known is that neither Christopher not his brother, Bartholomew were truly of the Christian faith.  They had “escaped” harm in Spain by pretending to convert to Christianity.  But the truth of the matter is that it was a lie, was nothing more than pretense, and was done, so the story goes, in order to escape torture, themselves.

It’s reported that Christopher Columbus personally killed approximately 500,000  American Indians.  How he and his brother did this was to erect wide gibbets — gibbets is that structure that is made to hang people.  But they didn’t merely hang their victims, they did it in such a way so that their feet could hardly touch the ground.  Worse, however, they lit a low fire under them that caused a painfully slow death.

th[4]Another fact that isn’t generally known (although it IS known amongst American Indians) is that Christopher Columbus and his brother had come on this, their second trip, to obtain slaves, which they did do.  Those souls that they could get their hands on — that they didn’t kill by slow torture — they loaded onto their ship, and set sail.  Rape was another crime that this man and his brother were responsible for.  Rape, murder and theft.

The interesting fact is that there were other explorers before Columbus who had made journeys to America.   Why was this mass murderer given credit for this “discovery”?  After much pondering, I guess my theory for this historical lie is because the history books are written by those who conquer a people, and the more I delve into history (real history), the more I become of the opinion that the history that we are spoon fed in school is nothing more than fairy-tales, all dressed up to hide the ugly truth.  Sigh…

columbus[1]Personally, I like this poster.

Having run across much of this information years ago, I stopped celebrating Columbus day several years back.  If anything, when that day comes, I say a prayer for those nameless souls whose only fault was that they weren’t like he was.  They were different.

But there’s a saying that goes “viva la difference.”  (French for “Long Live the Difference.)

Unfortunately, it seems to me that we as human beings need to grow up.  In all groups of people or society there are those who would profit by daunting another’s dreams…those who would enslave…and those who would sink to the very depths of humanity.  I don’t believe there is any race of people who are scatheless from such crimes, so it’s useless to try to pin such a thing on a specific group of people.  Rather individuals who do these things — regardless of ethnic background — should be known for what they are:  nothing more than a criminal.  Certainly not a hero.

Well, I hope you will forgive me for such a gloomy post.  But seeing the “excitement” of Columbus day all around me, I felt I needed to speak up.  Do come on in and share your thoughts with me.


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KAREN KAY aka GEN BAILEY is the multi-published author of American Indian Historical Romances. She has written for such prestigious publishers as AVON/HarperCollins, Berkley/Penguin/Putnam and Samhain Publishing. KAREN KAY’S great grandmother was Choctaw Indian and Kay is honored to be able to write about the American Indian Culture.
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53 thoughts on “Columbus… Hero or Genocidal Maniac?”

  1. Thank You for opening my eyes to what and who Columbus was and did as an explorer. We know other explorers, especially the Spanish, probably because of Columbus, killed other indigenous people in South America and Mexico I think. Good thing Lady Karma can and should be a bitch, to those who are bad, including killers, rapists and more. All you bad people out there, BEWARE OF LADY KARMA, she doesn’t just mad but even and what you sew you shall reap in multitude. Let’s hope all of us can be good people earning her gratitude not punishment. What goes around comes around full circle so watch out if you are not good and caring even nurtuting. I would not want to be you, when she pays you back especially in this life and most likely beyond furthermore. Glad to have the Columbus thing known, sorry for those that suffered and hope Karma was kinder to them next go round.
    Just proves history favors the conqueror. Not fact based either.

  2. Really sad to read what Columbus and his brother did to Native Americans.Must of been horrible to see or hear. Would not wish torture on anyone. Thank you for chance to win your book and the true facts. Agatha P. Townsend
    715 Oakdale Ave.
    New Bern, N. c. 28562

  3. Wow,,very interesting post,,no i was not aware that he had a brother who traveled with him or that he did these mass murders,,how did this go so long without it being known? wrong in so many levels,,what a horrible way to die

    • Yes, I agree, Vickie. It’s a part of history that is out there to learn but isn’t part of what we learn in school. One has to stumble upon it (like I did) or deliberately go to research it. But it is out there to learn. : )

  4. I saw a mini series several years ago that portrayed Columbus in a grim light, not this grim. Considering those adventurers who sailed to new worlds had their center focus on finding wealth and recognition this is not surprising. History is often tainted. Magillan is credited as the first man to sail around the world. He was murdered in the Phillipines by natives but his crew finished the trip. According to Philippine history Magellan was evil. His cruelity to the natives lead to his murder.

    • Hi Cindy!

      I didn’t know that, but I bet it’s true. As you said, history is often tainted and it takes some doing to learn the truth…often those that write history, write of their own evils — placing them upon others as did…gosh, can’t recall his name now — one of the early traders. Thanks for your post.

  5. Thank you for your history lesson on CC and his brother. For some all the bad gets swept under the rug. Sounds to me him and his brother were murderers of the worst kind. On a much brighter note I do enjoy your books!

  6. Hi Kay! I’m so glad you wrote about this today. I just watched a movie last night about Christopher Columbus and it showed exactly what you are saying. It was horrible how they hung those people. They also found other ways to kill Native Americans just to be the first to discover a new world. I’m sorry it’s been awhile since I have read your blog. My dad passed 6 weeks ago and I’ve found myself a bit lost. Thank you for sparking my interest this morning!

    • Hi Lisa!

      Please accept my deep sympathy for the passing of your father. Can understand why you might feel a bit lost. Is there really a movie about this? I didn’t know. Someone else must’ve done the research and decided they, too, had to speak out.

  7. Very interesting post about Christopher Columbus and his brother. Yesterday was my happy day because it was my birthday. I turned 51 yrs old yesterday. But that was horrible what the brothers did.

  8. I’m surprised that we still consider him the first discoverer of America especially after this information was exposed. I hadn’t heard about his treatment of the earliest settlers.

    Hopefully one day we will honor the other guys who discovered America; Amerigo Vespucci, Leif Eriksson or his dad, Eric the Red.

  9. I keep asking that question every year why was he given credit for what others found. Native american’s had been here for centuries.

    • Hi Kim!

      Good point. I guess history is what the powers that be want us to believe — probably little more than propaganda if it’s taught in gov’t schools.

  10. this is new information to me. what horrible things Christopher and his brother did to these people we should not have a Columbus day to celebrate

  11. Wow! That info is a eye opener Karen. Sounds like Christopher & his brother were really sick individuals. So, everyone was ok with what these two did to the Native Americans, just like all the others who took their lands from them. What our nation was built on, other persons suffering. Thanks for the chance to win your book, I would love to win it.

    • Hi Lois!

      It’s true. I was shocked, also, because of course in school we’re taught what a clever and wonderful guy this person was. But it’s why I felt I had to speak out.

  12. I was shocked when I learned awhile back that Christopher Columbus was taking slaves, etc. I had no idea. I don’t think people realize what/who he really was and I find it sad how they don’t believe it when I try to explain what I learned about him.

    • Gosh, Laurie, you hit it on the nail. It’s easier, I guess, to believe the lie than to go and seek out the truth of the situation. But at least it’s a good thing to point a person’s attention to the truth. Thanks for your comment.

  13. I had previously read where a number of America’s states do not celebrate Columbus Day, but have given the holiday another name, but I didn’t know why until I read your blog. I didn’t even know about Christopher having a brother involved in his journey. Live and learn, as it is said.

    • Hi Gladys!

      I didn’t either. It was one of those things I learned when I was researching something else. Since that time I have never celebrated Columbus Day.

  14. I’ve known for a long time about the victors getting to write the story and Americans are right up there. Real questions are never really wanted in schools. And like a lot of things, it’s a bit of brain washing to keep the masses calm – same goes for politics and religion (IMO). How can we learn from our mistakes if we never know about them! There is a new cry on the internet to get rid of Columbus Day and make it Native American Day or Indigenous People’s Day and I’m all for it. I did not know about the gibbets 🙁

    • Hi Catslady,

      You really said this well. Real questions, real facts aren’t wanted in schools, or for the most part out in society at large. Actually I think the “holiday” should be scrapped. Somehow making a holiday out of a day when a man killed so many people doesn’t seem right to me either. But am so glad to see that you are awake and aware.

  15. I had read this information and much more several years ago. He and his “exploration” were not what we were led to believe. Small consolation, but he fell into disfavor, lost the titles he had been given, and lost most of the fortune he had amassed.

    The city of Asheville, North Carolina, the city council has been petitioned to change Columbus Day to Indigenous People’s Day. The petition reads: “As we all know, Christopher Columbus was responsible for colonial-era genocide of indigenous cultures and people throughout the Caribbean. It has been well established that he provided fabricated accounts of the Americas. During his lifetime, he was charged with brutality and tyranny towards native people, a charge which bought him a life of poverty. His deceit led to centuries of brutal European conquest in the Americas, and rumor has it, he even introduced syphilis to Europe. Let’s re-appropriate this calendar day in honor of the vast native cultures that have inhabited this continent for millennia, cultures that often experience erasure and disadvantage in a land that initially belonged to them.”

    This sounds like a good idea to me.

    • Hi Patricia!

      Thank you so much for this delightful post. And while I think the Asheville, NC city council has a lot on the ball, I still would rather just not celebrate it at all. Somehow to make it Native American Day with all the glories of fairs and celebration seems a disservice to me of those who lost their lives. Rather, it would seem to me to be a day of prayer and remembering and praying for all those people who lost their lives.

      Thanks so much for your post. It was delightful.

  16. I am so surprised to hear that about Christopher Columbus. Why hasn’t it ever come out before this? Take care and keep writing these good books

    • Hi Sharon!

      Yes, it doesn’t surprise me that this isn’t more generally known — but perhaps in the future it might be so that we can do away with a celebration to a man that deserves defame, not a day in his name. : )

  17. My son is a year away from being a certified history teacher and these kind of things are one of his pet peeves. He is on a mission to find the truth behind the glorification of events in history and bring that perspective into his classroom. Amazing how much opposition there is to a viewpoint such as this. I appreciate your blog Karen. Seeking truth behind the facade is what we should all be doing as Christians, in history and especially in scriptures.

  18. Gosh, Cindy, thank you so much for your comment. That is wonderful that your son has a pet peeve about this sort of thing. I can just see him inspiring a whole new generation of people, can’t you? And you are so right — truth will out eventually. Unfortunately for us, the truth often doesn’t come out until it’s much too late to do anything about it — and doesn’t then help those who were harmed. But you are right and I so agree with you.

  19. Just got to this. Wow. Did not know the extent to which the Columbus brothers actions went. thanks for the info. will make me want to research too. I have a co-worker who thinks Columbus Day should be renamed: Discovery Day to cover celebrating discoveries all types of explorers have made over the centuries, not necessarily who did the discovering (because they were usually hard people), but what was discovered. this co-worker also thinks it’s wrong that the Americas were named for Amerigo Vespucci since he didn’t really “discover” the new continents.
    Yep. History is written by the victors and the view is usually skewed.

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