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Columbus Day: In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue


Maurice Abravanel was a descendant of Don Isaac Abravanel, born in 1438, who, as finance minister to Queen Esabella of Spain, arranged funding for the first voyage of Christopher Columbus.

More and more cities are renaming today #IndigenousPeoplesDay — Activists campaigning for the change are fighting for a history in which Christopher Columbus, who the day conventionally commemorates, is not painted as a bold explorer to be celebrated, but rather as a war criminal who oversaw the genocide and enslavement of the Native American population.

As of 17 January 2017, 567 Native American tribes were legally recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) of the United States. List of Federally recognized tribes by state.


Teaching for Change
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Bill Bigelow, co-director of Zinn Education Project, which "promotes and supports the teaching of people's history in middle and high school classrooms across the country," explained Columbus' promotion of slavery and savagery in the territories he actually landed on. "Columbus initiated the trans-Atlantic slave trade, in early February 1494, first sending several dozen enslaved Taínos to Spain,". The following year, Columbus ramped up his attempt at making slavery a profitable enterprise, by rounding up 1,600 Taínos, sending the "best" 550 of those to Spain, and telling his fellow colonialists they were free to take whoever remained. "Let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold," Columbus wrote. Proponents of Indigenous Peoples' Day widely regard Columbus Day as the celebration of genocide, rather than discovery. "And Columbus deserves to be remembered as the first terrorist in the Americas," Bigelow said.

Christopher Columbus

In 1492 Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue Story


Maurice Abravanel was a descendant of Don Isaac Abravanel, born in 1438, who, as finance minister to Queen Esabella of Spain, arranged funding for the first voyage of Christopher Columbus.

Isaac ben Judah Abrabanel, (Lisbon, 1437 - Venice, 1508), also spelled Abravanel or Abarbanel, commonly referred to as The Abarbanel, was a Portuguese Jewish statesman, philosopher, Bible commentator, and financier. Wealthy Jewish men used to occupy prominent jobs at the Portuguese court since the reign of the first king of Portugal.
D. Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal, nominated the rabi Yahia Ben Yahia for the position of Finance Minister of the kingdom. The good relationship between the royal Crown and the Jewish community was kept during the first dynasty, but it faced a drastic decline during the second one.During the second dynasty, in 1496, that Jews were expelled from Portugal, which had a terrible impact in the Portuguese overseas empire.
The first Jewish community of Porto used to live close to the catedral, close to the magnificent viewpoint of Igreja dos Grilos. Therefore, this would be the place where the first Porto's Jewish quarter was built. Later on, the community started to move closer to the Douro river, where is now Ribeira and the famous Luiz bridge, where most of their businesses were conducted.

130 Abravanels Celebrate a Different Hero of 1492
Five hundred years ago Don Isaac Abravanel, a Jew who was finance minister to Queen Isabella of Spain, was given a choice: Convert to Christianity or be exiled forever from Spain. Together with thousands of other Jews, Abravanel chose exile, and in the words of one scholar, became the classic wandering Jew, journeying to Naples, Sicily, Corfu and Venice. Over the weekend, 130 of his descendants gathered in Queens to pay tribute to the courage of Abravanel and to bask in his name. There were Abravanels, Abarbanels, Barbanels and Barbanells, among other variations, and they brought with them ancient books and documents and stories and family trees going back eight generations and more.

Christopher Columbus' Jewish Roots Examined By Historians
For too long, scholars have ignored Columbus' grand passion: the quest to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims. During Columbus' lifetime, Jews became the target of fanatical religious persecution. On March 31, 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella proclaimed that all Jews were to be expelled from Spain. The edict especially targeted the 800,000 Jews who had never converted, and gave them four months to pack up and get out. Historians believe the real motive behind his historic quest was to find a new homeland for Jews who were persecuted and run out of Spain.

Maurice Abravanel
American. Born, Jan. 6, 1903 in Salonika, Greece. Died, September, 1993. Brought up in Lausanne, Switzerland.
At age 19, he went to Berlin where he studied music and theory with composer Kurt Weill. Became an assistant at the Mecklenburg Theatre and there developed a very remarkable baton technique. Conducted in Zwickau, Altenburg and Kassel. In 1933 and 1934 he conducted Monteux's Orchestre Symphonique de Paris, and at Ballet Russe. In 1936 he came to US and conducted the Metropolitan Opera. In 1938 he left the Met to conduct Broadway. After WWII, went to Australia to conduct the Sydney Symphony Society. A year later, accepted the post as Conductor of Utah Symphony, and remained there for 32 years. In 1949, received a Tony Award for conducting of Regina. 1970, served as a member of the first music panel of the National Endowment for the Arts. 1975, received Mahler Society Award for the best Mahler recording of that year.
Appointed artist-in-residence for life at the Tanglewood Music Center in 1982. 1991, awarded the National Medal of the Arts.
Abravanel's family were Sephardic Jews.

Columbus sailed the ocean blue.


In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

He sailed by night; he sailed by day;
He used the stars to find his way.

A compass also helped him know
How to find the way to go.

Ninety sailors were on board;
Some men worked while others snored.

Then the workers went to sleep;
And others watched the ocean deep.

Day after day they looked for land;
They dreamed of trees and rocks and sand.

October 12 their dream came true,
You never saw a happier crew!

"Indians! Indians!" Columbus cried;
His heart was filled with joyful pride.

But "India" the land was not;
It was the Bahamas, and it was hot.

The Arakawa natives were very nice;
They gave the sailors food and spice.

Columbus sailed on to find some gold
To bring back home, as he'd been told.

He made the trip again and again,
Trading gold to bring to Spain.

The first American? No, not quite.
But Columbus was brave, and he was bright.

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
It was a courageous thing to do
But someone was already here.

Columbus knew the world was round
So he looked for the East while westward bound,
But he didn't find what he thought he found,
And someone was already here.

The Inuit and Cherokee,
The Aztec and Menominee,
The Onandaga and the Cree;
Columbus sailed across the sea,
But someone was already here.

It isn't like it was empty space,
Caribs met him face to face.
Could anyone discover the place
When someone was already here?


So tell me, who discovered what?
He thought he was in a different spot.
Columbus was lost, the Caribs were not;
They were already here.



Columbus Day Song
(sung to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell")

In 1492,
In 1492,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
In 1492.

For 70 days he sailed,
For 70 days he sailed,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
For 70 days he sailed.

He came to a new land,
He came to a new land,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
And came to a new land.

Exploring he did go,
Exploring he did go,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
Exploring he did go.

He sailed back home to Spain,
He sailed back home to Spain,
Columbus sailed across the sea,
Then sailed back home to Spain.

Christopher Columbus
In August 1492,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

October 12th they sighted land,
And set their feet upon new sand.

The Three Ships

The Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria.

Three little ships from Spain,

Sailed over the seas, under skies so blue,

Sailed on through the wind and rain.

So brave was the captain,

So gallant his rew,

Their faith remained steadfast,

Till their goal came in view.

The Nina, the Pinta, the Santa Maria,

Three little ships from Spain,

Inspired the later pioneers

Who settled on hill and plain,

So great was their labor,

Their courage so true,

That our mighty nation

From their striving grew!

Columbus Day Kid Songs

("Oh,My Darling Clementine.")
Oh, Columbus; oh, Columbus,
Sailed the ocean wide & blue.
He landed in America,
In fourteen ninety-two.

("Pop! Goes the Weasel.")
All around the great wide world,
Columbus sailed the ocean
To prove the world was big & round
That's real devotion!

Columbus,Columbus,sailed across the sea,
And found a very special land
That belongs to you & me.
Columbus,Columbus,we celebrate your day,
In fourteen hundred & ninety-two
When you sailed our way.

("Mary Had a LIttle Lamb.")
Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
Ocean blue,ocean blue.
Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
In fourteen-ninety-two.
Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
Ocean blue,ocean blue.
I enjoy making discoveries,too.
How about you?

Examining the Reputation of
Christopher Columbus

By Jack Weatherford

Christopher Columbus' reputation has not survived the scrutiny of history, and today we know that he was no more the discoverer of America than Pocahontas was the discoverer of Great Britain. Native Americans had built great civilizations with many millions of people long before Columbus wandered lost into the Caribbean.
Columbus' voyage has even less meaning for North Americans than for South Americans because Columbus never set foot on our continent, nor did he open it to European trade. Scandinavian Vikings already had settlements here in the eleventh century, and British fisherman probably fished the shores of Canada for decades before Columbus. The first European explorer to thoroughly document his visit to North America was the Italian explorer Giovanni Caboto, who sailed for England's King Henry VII and became known by his anglicized name, John Cabot. Caboto arrived in 1497 and claimed North America for the English sovereign while Columbus was still searching for India in the Caribbean. After three voyages to America and more than a decade of study, Columbus still believed that Cuba was a part of the continent of Asia, South America was only an island, and the coast of Central America was close to the Ganges River.


by Bartolomé de las Casas written 1542, published 1552*

[EXCERPT PRESENTATION] by Bishop don Fray Bartolomé de las Casas or Casaus, to the most high and potent lord Prince of all the Spains don Felipe, our lord _________
Most high and potent lord:

Because divine providence has ordered in this world that for the direction and common utility of the human lineage the world be constituted by Kingdoms and peoples, with their kings like fathers and shepherds (as Homer has called them) and therefore the most noble and generous members of the republics, for that reason no doubt of the rectitude of the royal spirits of those kings may be held, or with right reason might be held. And if any wrongs, failings, defects, or evils should be suffered in those kingdoms, the only reason for that is that the kings have no notice of them. For these wrongs &c, if they be present and reported, it is the duty of the king, with greatest study and vigilant industry, to root them out. . . .

Considering, then, most potent lord, the evils and harm, the perditions and ruin, the equals or likes of which, never were men imagined capable of doing, considering, as I say, those evils which as a man of fifty years' and more experience, being in those lands present, I have seen committed upon those so many and such great kingdoms, or better said, that entire vast and new world of the Indies . lands conceded and given in trust by God and His Church to the king and queen of Castile, to rule and govern them, convert them to belief in Christ and the Holy Catholic Church, and give them to prosper temporally and spiritually, this subject was not able to contain himself from supplicating with Your Majesty, most importunely, that Your Majesty not concede such licence nor allow those terrible things that the tyrants did invent, pursue, and have committed against those peaceable, humble, and meek Indian peoples, who offend no person. . . .their children.

. . Into and among these gentle sheep, endowed by their Maker and Creator with all the qualities aforesaid, did creep the Spaniards, who no sooner had knowledge of these people than they became like fierce wolves and tigers and lions who have gone many days without food or nourishment. And no other thing have they done for forty years until this day,1 and still today see fit to do, but dismember, slay, perturb, afflict, torment, and destroy the Indians by all manner of cruelty .

The island of Cuba is almost as long as from Valladolid to Rome; today it is almost devoid of population. The island of San Juan [Puerto Rico] and that of Jamaica, large and wellfavoured and lovely islands both, have been laid waste. On the Isles of the Lucayos [Bahamas] . . . where there were once above five hundred thousand souls, today there is not a living creature. All were killed while being brought, and because of being brought, to the Island of Hispaniola where the Spaniards saw that their stock of the natives of that latter island had come to an end. . . .

Two principal and general customs have been employed by those, calling themselves Christians, who have passed this way, in extirpating and striking from the face of the earth those suffering nations. The first being unjust, cruel, bloody, and tyrannical warfare. The other after having slain all those who might yearn toward or suspire after or think of freedom, or consider escaping from the torments that they are made to suffer, by which I mean all the native-born lords and adult males, for it is the Spaniards' custom in their wars to allow only young boys and females to live .

The cause for which the Christians have slain and destroyed so many and such infinite numbers of souls, has been simply to get, as their ultimate end, the Indians' gold of them, and to stuff themselves with riches in a very few days, and to raise themselves to high estates .

Owing to the insatiable greed and ambition that they have had, which has been greater than any the world has ever seen before. . . [A]ll the Indians of all the Indies never once did aught hurt or wrong to Christians, but rather held them to be descended from heaven, from the sky, until< many times they or their neighbours received from the Christians many acts of wrongful harm, theft, murder, violence, and vexation. . . .

I, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, or Casaus, friar of the order of Saint Dominic, who by the mercy of God am here today in this court of Spain, was persuaded by the same notable persons resident in this Court . . . to set down an accounting of the hell that is the Indies, so that those infinite masses of souls redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ may not die for all eternity without any help for it, but rather know their Creator and be saved. And by the compassion that I have for my native land, which is Castile, I pray that God not destroy it for the great sins committed against its faith and honour. . . .

I have great hope that the emperor and king of Spain, our lord Don Carlos, the fifth of that name, may come to understand (for until now the truth has always been most industriously covered over) the acts of malice and treachery which have been and still are being done upon those nations and lands, against the will of God and his own, and that he may bring an end to so many evils and bring relief to that New World which God has given him, as the lover and cultivator, as he is of justice.

They would erect long gibbets . . . and bind thirteen of the Indians at one time, in honour and reverence, they said, of Our Redeemer and the twelve Apostles, and put firewood around it and burn the Indians alive.

[T]he lord asked the holy father whether Christians went to the sky. The priest replied that they did, but only those who were good. And the cacique then said . . .that he did not desire to go to the sky, but rather down to hell, so that he would not be where they were and would not see such cruel people.

Another time, because the Indians did not give him a coffer filled with gold, . . . they killed an infinite number of souls, and cut off the hands and noses of countless women and men, and others they threw to the savage dogs, who ate them and tore them to pieces.

1 I.e., since 1502, the year las Casas first went out to the Indies with the expedition led by Nicolás de Ovando. Las Casas is, then, implying that his Brevísima Relación will be based on personal experience and observation. It should be noted that las Casas did not adopt the views expressed in this account until 1514, twelve full years after he came to the Indies. He was, in fact, an encomendero at first, one of those who exploited the Indians, and it was not until he was exposed to the ideas of Antonio de Montesinos, a Dominican who preached that the Indians were “men,” with souls, that las Casas' eyes were opened to the brutality of the Conquest. [Knight & Hurley, p. 6] Univ. of Alabama Library Ortelius, Americæ sive novi orbis, nova descriptio, Antwerp, 1570


Las Casas proceeds to recount specific acts of cruelty perpetrated on the people of Hispaniola, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Jamaica, Cuba, Nicaragua, New Spain (Mexico), the Yucatan, Guatemala, Venezuela, Peru, Granada and other small Caribbean islands, and “Florida,” referring to Spanish claims north of Mexico in North America.

For political as well as religious reasons, including the evidence from las Casas, King Charles issued the “New Laws of the Indies” in 1542 to moderate the treatment of the Indians. The New Laws were opposed and ignored by most colonial officials in Spanish America.

Excerpted by the National Humanities Center, 2006:
From Bartolomé de las Casas, An Account, Much Abbreviated, of the Destruction of the Indies, with Related Texts, ed. Franklin W. Knight, & tr. Andrew Hurley (Hackett Publ. Co., 2003), pp. 2-3, 6-8. Permission pending.

De Bry engravings in de Bry's 1598 edition of Destruction; digital images reproduced by permission of the John Carter Brown Library, Brown University.


Columbus Letters

The letters of Christopher Columbus have fascinated historians and
travelers for over half a millennia. This collection from the Princeton
University Digital Library brings together four of the seven Latin editions and one German edition of his letters as published in the last decade of the 15th century. This site allows visitors to peruse a clutch of these fine volumes in their original languages. Visitors can look around the volumes as they see fit or search for various phrases and words. It's worth nothing that visitors can browse by topic or document contributor. It's an amazing way to explore these letters which transformed contemporary understandings of the people and places across the Atlantic Ocean from Europe.