A People's History of the United States Questions and Answers
by Howard Zinn

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

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One significant motive for Columbus that led him to oppress Indigenous peoples was his lust for gold. He knew that his financing was reliant upon him finding valuable objects to ship back to the king and queen of Spain, who had approved of his journey. This motive was so strong that he responded to the tiny gold ornaments that the Arawak wore in their ears by taking many as prisoners in order to force them to give directions. This proved fruitless, however, as Columbus never found much gold.

When no large gold field was discovered, but Columbus knew he still needed to fill his ship with some kind of valuable commodity, he turned instead to enslavement to meet his extractive needs. Columbus rounded up 1500 Arawak people and then chose what he thought were the best 500 to ship to Spain. Of these 500, 200 died on the journey.

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There are many reasons why Columbus enslaved the native people. The first reason was because, as he wrote in his journal, they would be good servants. Columbus...

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