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What is one early and one subsequent motive that drove Columbus to oppress indigenous...

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user178209 | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 23, 2013 at 7:40 PM via web

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What is one early and one subsequent motive that drove Columbus to oppress indigenous people?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 24, 2013 at 1:58 AM (Answer #1)

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Zinn suggests that one reason early reason why Columbus oppressed indigenous people was out of fear of "the other."  In landing in what he thought to be India, Columbus initially feared those who were there, believing that they stood in the way of his conquest and eventual glory.  It is in this where the subsequent motive for oppression happened.  This became the drive for wealth and the desire to control.  Columbus understood that he could gain more money and accumulation of wealth if he took the natural resources he found, including the people he found there.  The emergence of enslavement and oppression was driven by material reality.  This desire for material reality was subsequent to the initial motive which was fear of a new element.  

The combination of initial fear and subsequent coveting of wealth helped to establish the narrative of Columbus' oppression of the indigenous people.  It is in this regard that Zinn introduces that a significant part of the American narrative involved the need to dominate and control others to substantiate individual gain.


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thetall | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted July 27, 2015 at 7:24 AM (Answer #2)

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Columbus was motivated to find gold where he landed, and to acquire this information he had to use force against some of the natives in order to obtain it. The first thing he noted after his initial encounter with the Indians is that they were generous and peaceful but ignorant people. He realized that it would be difficult for the Indians to resist, since they had inferior weapons and were generally naïve, according to him.

Columbus required help from the royal family and to motivate them, he promised them gold and slaves. He received the needed support in the form of ships and men. On his next voyage, he raided villages and took the inhabitants as slaves. Word went round among the natives about the intentions of the Europeans; as a result, they left their homes.

In summary, the motivation was first to find gold for purposes of wealth generation and second to get slaves in order to earn support from the monarchy.


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