Is there anyone who understands "History Is A Weapon" - Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress, by Howard Zinn and can briefly explain it to me?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The website "History is a Weapon" is devoted to exposing a conflict view of history.  This particular approach to history is one that stresses the viewpoints of the dispossessed, the dis-empowered, and the silenced.  It features primary sources from points of view of those who have engaged in resistance, and speak from an oppositional point of view.  The site features much in both reference and content from Howard Zinn, a historian who is deeply committed to the conflict point of view and driven by the idea that American History must retain balance between its standard depiction of promise and possibility and the reality of where it falls short.  In the selection identified, Zinn explores how the Columbus landing drastically, and horribly, changed the lives of Native Americans.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let me just add a couple points.

To Zinn, Columbus was pretty much a genocidal murderer.  Zinn argues that Columbus came to the New World with a lust for gold and other riches.  He was met there by innocent Indians who wanted only to share with him.

Because of his greed, Columbus systematically exploited the Indians.  He did this by such things as

  • taking hostages in an attempt to force them to tell him where he could find gold
  • by enslaving them on encomiendas

Basically, Zinn argues that Columbus intentionally destroyed the Indians out of his own greed.

kennishawalters | Student

Thanks very much for the information guys. It helped a great deal! Do you think this had any effect on the treatment of indigenous population by the Europeans and why would revisiting this moment in history important for understanding race today?

historyisaweapon | Student

First, that essay is a chapter of Howard Zinn's book "A People's History of the United States" which is hosted on History Is A Weapon.

Second, if you go to the main page of History Is A Weapon (, we explain what we're doing with the site.

Third, that's a pretty simple chapter. Your question and the follow up sound almost like you've come here to get someone to do your homework for you. Maybe you should just re-read the chapter and think about it a little bit.

Anyway, good luck.