Exploring the Early Americas: Columbus and the Taíno

Exploring the Early Americas: Columbus and the Taíno

From the exhibit text: “When Christopher Columbus arrived on the Bahamian Island of Guanahani (San Salvador) in 1492, he encountered the Taíno people, whom he described in letters as “naked as the day they were born.” The Taíno had complex hierarchical religious, political, and social systems. Skilled farmers and navigators, they wrote music and poetry and created powerfully expressive objects. At the time of Columbus’s exploration, the Taíno were the most numerous indigenous people of the Caribbean and inhabited what are now Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. By 1550, the Taíno were close to extinction, many having succumbed to diseases brought by the Spaniards. Taíno influences survived, however, and today appear in the beliefs, religions, language, and music of Caribbean cultures.”

First Encounters in the Americas

First Encounters in the Americas

“To many newcomers, the Indigenous Peoples were not only “backward” but also dangerous. In historian Ronald Takaki’s words, “They represented what English men and women in America thought they were not—and, more important, what they must not become.” Colonial leaders warned that colonists must strictly adhere to the laws and moral guidelines that defined their communities; otherwise they would allow themselves to become “Indianized.” Increasingly, “to be ‘Indianized’ meant to serve the Devil.” It also meant to be “decivilized, to become wild men.” After all, the English viewed “Indians” as people living outside of “civilization.”

The History of Columbus Day

The History of Columbus Day

Columbus may not have discovered the Americas, but it was his arrival—and subsequent three additional voyages over the next twelve years—that shepherded in an era of exploration and colonization of North and South America… While this opened up economic and political opportunities for European powers, the colonization of the New World led to the exploitation of its indigenous peoples, often violently and eventually with disastrous results for many cultures. Columbus’s participation in such brutality eventually led to his arrest and caused him to lose favor with the Spanish monarchy.”               

The 400 Years Project

The 400 Years Project

The 400 Years Project Looks at Native American Identity Through The Native Lens”. The year 2020 marked the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s arrival from England to Plymouth Rock, Mass., a moment encapsulated with the general notion that the following year, pilgrims broke bread with the Wampanoag Tribe in an act of friendship. For generations that story — from the white settlers’ perspective — has been taught to children in schools. Correcting those myths and looking at the evolution of Native American identity over the last 400 years is the mission of The 400 Yeras Project a pictorial collection of Native American life. It includes original photo essays, text essays and a digital library of Native photographers from the mid-1800s to the present. Project founders Sarah Stacke, Sheena Brings Plenty and Brian Adams want to address colonization while centering the Native voice.

Land Grab Connecticut

Land Grab Connecticut

The  Land Grab CT project was inspired by the Land Grad U project, which extensively collected and mapped land data tied to land-grant universities and the 1862 Morrill Act. Our website is a localization of the data from the Land Grab U project and an expansion of their work in a larger colonial context. Land Grab CT specifically focuses on UConn’s status as a land-grant university and details UConn’s acquisition and control of the land it currently resides on as well as the parcels of land from which it benefits. This project aims to inform viewers about UConn’s participation in the construction of colonial systems of higher education. It invites them to interrogate their assumptions about these systems and their impact on Native communities.

Curtis (Edward S.) Collection

Curtis (Edward S.) Collection

The Curtis collection consists of more than 2,400 silver-gelatin, first generation photographic prints–some of which are sepia-toned–made from Curtis’s original glass negatives. Images from each of the geo-cultural regions documented in The North American Indian are represented in the collection: the Pacific Northwest, New Southwest, Great Basin, Great Plains, Plateau Region, California, and Alaska. Included are both studio and field photographs. A large number are individual or group portraits, and many subjects are identified by name. Other subjects include traditional and ceremonial dress, dwellings and other structures, agriculture, arts and crafts, rites and ceremonies, dances, games, food preparation, transportation, and scenery. Acquired by the Library of Congress through copyright deposit from about 1900 through 1930, about two-thirds (1,608) of these images were not published in the North American Indian volumes and therefore offer a different and unique glimpse into Curtis’s work with indigenous cultures.

Indigenous Law Web Archive

Indigenous Law Web Archive

This is the Indigenous Law web archive of the Law Library of Congress. The Law Library collects and preserves primary law sources of Indigenous nations, which are sovereign governments by treaty with the United States. At the time this collection started, there are 578 tribes and 92 agencies. This archive includes constitutions of a number of sovereign nations, including Navajo Nation, Muscogee Nation, Cherokee Nation, Comanche Nation, Hopi Tribe, etc. and ordinances, Supreme Court papers, court rules and forms for criminal, civil and family courts, and wellness courts. Tribal executive orders, emergency orders, ordinances and legislation are included in this collection as well. Tribes, nations, bands, communities and rancherias do communicate with their citizens by social media and at times when that was the sole source of legal documentation, we have targeted social media sites for capture where possible. There may be information loss as a result of the challenges of archiving social media.

Return the National Parks to the Tribes

Return the National Parks to the Tribes

in 1851, members of a California state militia called the Mariposa Battalion became the first white men to lay eyes on Yosemite Valley. The group was largely made up of miners. They had been scouring the western slopes of the Sierra when they happened upon the granite valley that Native peoples had long referred to as “the place of a gaping mouth.” Lafayette Bunnell, a physician attached to the militia, found himself awestruck. “None but those who have visited this most wonderful valley, can even imagine the feelings with which I looked upon the view,” he later wrote. “A peculiar exalted sensation seemed to fill my whole being, and I found my eyes in tears.” Many of those who have followed in Bunnell’s footsteps over the past 170 years, walking alongside the Merced River or gazing upon the god-rock of El Capitan, have been similarly struck by the sense that they were in the presence of the divine.