I’m Cassandra Streeter and a Patrick Henry High School student. We have been studying the arrival of Europeans in the Americas in our U.S. history class and learned that there is a statue of Christopher Columbus on the state capitol grounds. I believe the Columbus statue should be torn down. This issue is important to me because history is a big part of everyone’s life and it helps us learn and be better people.
The Columbus statue should be torn down and melted (so we can reuse the metal and not waste it), the plaque should be changed so that it tells what Bartholome’ de las Casas did and how he got there, and it should tell what Columbus did and how he actually affected the natives, and we should put up a statue of Bartholome’ de las Casas.
Here are some things from our class activities and my own research to support removing the Columbus memorial. First Columbus wanted to overpower and enslave the native people in the Caribbean. In his ship log Columbus wrote, “With fifty men we could subjugate them and make them do whatever we want.” Secondly he gave the Taino people demands that were impossible to keep. He ordered them to give him a certain amount of gold dust in three months and if they didn’t make it he would cut off their hands and let them bleed to death.
Columbus killed a lot of innocent people. An example of this is that Columbus made Haiti’s first incinerator and burned the Taino men. He was a torturer who brought fear to the natives to even hear the word ‘Spaniard’. Bartholome’ de las Casas was one of the only people that told the truth about this horrid tale at a time when this was accepted and was even promoted. In
his account from 1550 he speaks about the true cruelty happening at that time. He wrote, “What cruelty will they not commit, these brutal men who are hardened to seeing fields bathed in human blood, who make no distinction of sex or age, who do not spare infants at their mothers’ breasts, the great, the lowly, or even men of feebly and old gray old age. . .” He wrote this in a letter to a prince asking if he would help make it known that killing and torturing the natives was wrong, he saw the oppression and wanted it to stop.
We should also take Columbus statue because he never was actually in the U.S. (except for Puerto Rico) — he was only in the Caribbean.
In Howard Zinn’s Columbus and the Indians A Young People ’s History of the United States he talks about how the men were so terrible to the native islanders and villages that when the “Indians” even thought that the Spaniards were coming near they would hide or even commit suicide because they didn’t want to be tortured. And when Columbus and his men ran out of slaves who were dying from torture on one island they went to other islands to get more slaves.
One of the other reasons that we should take down the Columbus statue is that it would help people to heal because he did so much harm to the natives and I think that community should know that they are respected and that we are not against them.
We should take down the Columbus statue and put up a Bartholme’ de las Casas statue — he is too important to forget. I believe my voice matters, especially for who we choose to honor in our nation’s history. I would like to see Minnesotans come together and support these changes to the Columbus memorial on the state capitol grounds.
Henry High School