Windows of Time Since 1492
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VI. Quincentenniary “Celebration”
As I noted in the beginning of my unit, Gary Willis remarked that a funny thing happened on the way to the Quincentenniary. “Columbus got mugged. This time the Indians were waiting for him.”(14) People are speaking not of the discovery of America but rather the conquest or the encounter with the Native Indian populations. In public forums, Columbus is being marked as the precursor of exploitation. In
The Conquest of Paradise
, Kirkpatrick Sale “argues that Columbus was a grasping fortune hunter whose legacy was the destruction of the native population and rape of the land that continues to this day.’’(15) Descendants of Native Indians and slaves brought to the New World are understandably reluctant to celebrate the Quincentenniary. In 1986, the United Nations abandoned its attempt to plan a major celebration. And even in Seville, Spain, at the opening of this year’s World’s Fair, Columbus and related Quincentenniary activities were noticeably absent. Once again, Columbus has become a symbol but this time a symbol of exploitation.