My 4th grade students recently read of the true history of Columbus' career as a slaver and the genocide he began in the Caribbean.
I asked them: what new information did you learn? how did this affect you? why is this important to learn?
Here are some of their responses:
“I found out that the native people helped him, instead of thanking them, he wrote in his journal, he wrote about how he might enslave them and try to control them”

“Christopher Columbus wasn’t an explorer but a slave trader.”
“Columbus never even set foot on the main continent! He didn’t discover anything anyway!”

“Colombus had been a slave trader for more than twelve years beforehand”
“Because the indigenous people were wearing gold, he forced them to mine gold for him. When they did they not mine enough gold, they got their hands cut off and bled to death.”
“Columbus killed them ,thinking that the Native Americans were beasts,but he himself actually was the one.”

“he would write down what he did as if he was proud of it.”
“This hard history made me feel furious!!! A reason for this is that Columbus enslaved people and killed them! He has made me feel this fury!”

“I do not understand why there is a holiday for Columbus.”
“it is just plain wrong and horrible to kill people and think your allowed to because your white and their not.”

“It also made me frustrated because nobody with power did anything about it.”

“I’m really upset. They’re human beings”
“I felt very mad, especially at My teacher for teaching me the wrong thing. I asked myself “why would my teachers tell me something that is pure lie?".”

“I feel betrayed because the teachers I had last year and the year before that had taught me that Columbus was a good guy.”
“I feel sorrow”

“It must be sad for Indigenous people to see other people thinking Columbus is a hero”

“ It also made me feel mad at my country because of how badly they have treated those who were originally from here. They still deserve more attention.”
“Reading this I felt shocked that we celebrate this snake.”

“I am shocked this actually happened because what happened is just crazy"

“it also made me feel upset to know that my teachers told me and many other kids the soft, happily ever after lies instead of the truth.”
“ If you do not know the truth, you will repeat the lie. When you tell someone the lie, they will tell the lie, and eventually the truth will fade away.”

“This hard history is important to learn because it can get you ready when this happens again.”
“ people need to know the truth about their ancestors.”

“If you don’t know hard history you will spend your whole life believing lies that feel more pleasant to the US”

“Now the truth is being told more but younger kids usually don't know it. We should”
“It is important for people to learn the truth so that the people included in the fight are not forgotten and are not considered savages, when the savages are the ones saying the natives are savages.”

“We can prevent this from happening again”
“We have to learn important history because if we don't, when history repeats itself, people will know what strategies they tried in the past and whether it worked or not. If it worked, they could try the same strategies. If the strategy didn't work, they could try another way.”
I couldn't be more proud of their work. They read difficult texts (both in the language & the emotional fortitude required) and they had brave conversations about it. We then turned it into positive action with our #IndigenousPeoplesDay celebration & will continue thru the year.
wow, this thread has reached so many more people than I anticipated! kinda mind-blowing to see some of the people I look up to so much sharing it.. thanks for all the love and I will definitely share it with my students!
& to answer the most common question:
always start with primary sources when possible!! so for this it was the personal logs of CC & his men, & the writings of de las Casas.. (this is also for the folks who think I'm "indoctrinating" kids.. they're just reading facts lol)
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