Columbus and the Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean
Updated: 10/30/2020
Columbus and the Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean
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Caribbean Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean

Teacher Guide by Liane Hicks

When Columbus and his men first landed on the islands of the Caribbean believing that they had made it to Asia, they encountered a thriving civilization of people who had been living there for thousands of years. Mistaking his location, Columbus referred to these people as Indians. In fact, they were the Taíno, Lucayan and Carib, the Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean. They were the first people of the Americas to be victims of European invasion, enslavement, and colonization, which resulted in devastating consequences for the Indigenous peoples of the Americas. It is vital to confront our history and the reality of its impact.

Indigenous Peoples of the Caribbean

Storyboard Description

Columbus' "discovery" of the New World had both positive and negative impacts on the people who lived there. Create a poster that discusses these!

Storyboard Text

  • Explorers traveled to Asia by sailing around Africa or going east by land along the Silk Road. However, Columbus believed that there was a faster way to get to Asia by sailing directly west across the Atlantic. Silks and spices from China and India brought great riches to European entrepreneurs.
  • Columbus set sail on August 3, 1492 with three ships: the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. He landed on the island of Guanahani on October 12, 1492. Despite being inhabited by the Lucayan Taino people, Columbus claimed the land for Spain and renamed the island San Salvador. The Taino were initially welcoming and traded willingly with the Spanish.
  • Christopher Columbus
  • 1451 - 1506
  • ?
  • Columbus sought sponsorship for his expedition across the Atlantic from the king of Portugal in 1484 but was denied. In 1486, he asked the King and Queen of Spain, but was also turned down. He persisted, and was finally approved by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain in 1492.
  • Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy in 1451. He later lived in Lisbon, Portugal, where he worked in the merchant marine and became an accomplished sailor and navigator. He desired wealth and fame.
  • 20 years after Columbus' arrival in the Caribbean, 90% of the Indigenous population were murdered, enslaved or died from diseases brought by the Europeans. Columbus always maintained that he had made it to the East Indies, even as new discoveries disproved this. He died on May 20, 1506.
  • Columbus brought Spain gold, tobacco, and new foods like sugar, chocolate, potatoes, and turkey. He also brought back Taino people that he had enslaved.The goal was to conquer the Caribbean, exploit the land, and control its people. The indigenous peoples were enslaved and forced to work in gold mines. They were tortured or killed for resisting. Columbus was imprisoned for a short time in 1500 as punishment for mismanagement.
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