Thursday, June 19, 2008


A cool 1969 book found in my new favourite 2nd-hand bk/shop:

Columbus said of the Arawaks (the original inhabitants of Haiti, and themselves 7th/8th century immigrants from the Orinoco and the Amazon):

"...lovable, tractable, peacable and praisworthy...bear no arms, and are all unprotected and so very cowardly that a thousand would not face three: so they are fit to be ordered about and made to work, to sow and do aught else that might be needed, and you may build towns and teach them to to go clothed and to adopt our customs..."


(I paraphrase here:) Within 50 years the 300,000 Arawaks living on the island had dwindled to 500. Slavery and persecution mostly accounted for this silent, almost undocumented genocide. A more aggressive workforce imported from West Africa helped decimate the rest. Arawak features and shreds of their language persist in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, but the last pure Arawak died more than 400 years ago.

Like a lot of other stuff, they don't teach that in the history books.