Las Casas, “Destruction of the Indies” Hispaniola

I really enjoyed the reading. I thought that the author, Bartolome Las Casas, did a really good job explaining what he experienced in the island of Hispaniola. Las Casas was a Spanish colonist in America. He talked about some of the horrifying actions that happened to the Native Americans.  He said, “It once happened that I myself witnessed their grilling of four or five local leaders in this fashion” as a witness to what European colonists did to the Native Americans (55). In this article, Las Casas was biased toward Native Americans. Las Casas was against the abuse that Europeans colonists did to the people in the New World, such as taking their food and punishing them: “…what a European will consume in a single day normally supports three native households of ten persons each for the whole month” (53). Furthermore, Las Casas described European colonists as rapists and criminals who did not have any sense of humanity since they slaughtered “everyone they found there, including small children, old men, pregnant women, and even women who had just given birth” (53-54). I believe that Las Casas wanted to explain to the world including the future generations that European colonists were the one who started the fight, not the Native Americans. He said, “…the whole shameful process came to a head when one of the European commanders raped the wife of the paramount chief of the entire island. It was then that the locals began to think up ways of driving the Europeans out of their lands and to take up arms against them” (53). The conquer of the New World reminded me of the Encomienda System that we learned in class. Colonists were told that they had the right to take some of the farms from the natives. Colonists put the population to work even though they were supposed to be only visitors.  

I believe that La Casas wanted to remind the Europeans and the future generations that Christianity should be introduced to the rest of the countries instead of killing and enslaving the natives. Finally, this reading made me think of how soldiers sometimes get mentally traumatized when they are involved in war and how their perspectives about war may change based on their experience. Personally, I believe that this reading encourages us to talk to soldiers in order to learn from them. Las Casas’s writings might have been criticized in its day, from the Europeans who had different perspectives on the invasion but were still important. Colonists and soldiers’ untold stories would make a difference to our world and may bring peace.