DBQ1: Contact and Change



The arrival of Christopher Columbus in the Caribbean in 1492 had a tremendous impact on the future of that region.  The passage below describes that arrival.  It is taken from an abridgment of Columbus's personal journal made by Bartolome de Las Casas.

The Admiral...called them as witnesses to certify that he in the presence of them all, was taking, as he in fact took possession of said island for the King and Queen his masters, making the declarations that were required as they will be found more fully in the attestations then taken down in writing.  Soon after a large crowd of natives congregated there.  What follows are the Admiral's own words in his book on the first voyage and discovery of these Indies.  "In order to win the friendship and affection of that people, and because I was convinced that their conversion to our Holy Faith would be better promoted through love than through force, I presented some of them with red caps and some strings of glass beads which they placed around their necks, and with other trifles of insignificant worth that delighted them and by which we have got wonderful hold on their affections."

a. What was Columbus's first act upon arriving on the Caribbean island he had discovered?
b. Why does Columbus say he gave gifts to the Native Americans he encountered?

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