In the article, “Columbus’s Legacy: Genocide Essay in the America’s,” by David E. Stannard, the theme can be identified as contrary to popular belief that the millions of native peoples of the Americas that perished in the sixteenth century died not only from disease brought over by the Europeans, but also as a result of mass murder, as well as death due to working them to death.
Stannard starts out the article by citing contemporary examples of U.S. press’s thought of “worthy and unworthy” victims.
He gives examples of “worthy” victims in Cambodia, Bosnia, and Croatia and “unworthy” victims in East Timor. The author states that the native peoples of the Americas never have been labeled “worthy.” And recently, American and European denials of guilt for the most absolute genocide in the history of the world have assumed a new guise. The author quotes anthropologist Marvin Harris, describing the devastation through the West Indies and throughout the Americas as accidental, an “unintended consequence” of European exploration.
Epidemic disease undeniably contributed to the carnage, but in many volumes of testimony the European explorers detail their murderous intentions and actions. The slave drivers of the day calculated that it was cheaper to work people to death by the tens of thousands and then replace them than it was to maintain and feed a permanent captive
The Europeans saw the Indians as block in the pathway to unlimited access to North America’s untouched bountiful lands. After the mass deaths due to epidemic, new settlers and explorers purged Indian villages, burn entire towns, and poisoned whole communities. They also engaged a farsighted genocidal tactic of preventing the population from recovering, by abducting the women and children and selling them into slavery in markets in the Indies. After about fifty years of this, the numbers in Indian nation had diminished significantly. In Virginia alone, by 1697 only about 1,500 remained, out of a possibly 100,000. In New England, ther was at the most, one native person of New England alive for every twenty who had greeted the English less than a hundred years earliera 95 percent die-off.
These numbers are astounding, and very believable that they were not just dying of diseases, but of the overbearing intruders who had claimed their lands. .