American Literature Students:
I highly enjoyed reading your self-introductions; it’s clear we have a vibrant and talented group of classmates (with fascinating roots from across the globe) this semester and I look forward to learning as much from you as I hope you do from this class.
This week we begin at the “beginning” with the first discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus in 1492. Of course, indigenous peoples (the Taino and Arawaks) had long already settled in the Caribbean Basin before then. Columbus, however, does seem to get the credit for this nonetheless (there is a statue of him right by Brooklyn City Hall in fact).
This week, I ask you to watch a brief documentary on the Lost History of the Taino People as well as two sets of readings: an optimistic letter by Columbus “On His First Voyage to America, 1492” and a later, much darker account of the aftermath of colonization by Bartolome de Las Casas called “Destruction of the Indies”.
I also ask that you watch a “pre-history” documentary of New York by Eric Sanderson called: “New York: Before the City” as well as a short video on the history of the upstate New York indigenous tribes known as “The Five Nations” or Iroquois: History of the Iroquois (Five Nations)
Lastly, read Ned Blackhawk’s “Without Indigenous History, There is No US History” This article draws from Blackhawk’s new, important book: The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of US History that tells the history of Native Americans over five centuries, from Spanish colonial exploration to the rise of Indian self-determination.
Post (by next Monday, Sept. 11) a response to a key episode or theme from ONE of your readings AND from ONE of the videos. Explain what you found to be interesting, disturbing, and/or confusing. Try not to duplicate a point made by another student but feel free to expand on his or her post.
To post, simply click “comments” (above). Scroll down. Write your response in the comment box provided. Then “post comment.”