a question to Jim was RE: Keeping the faith: Cuban Jews

Les Schaffer schaffer at SPAMoptonline.net
Thu Apr 12 18:05:49 MDT 2001

[ from Nestor ]

En relación a RE: a question to Jim was RE: Keeping the faith: , el 12
Apr 01, a las 16:30, Craven, Jim dijo:

> I do wonder, however, why the Spanish Conquistadores also referred
> to indigenous peoples in the area of the now Philippines as also
> "Los Indios". Did they think the area of the now Philippines was
> also "India" or the "West Indies"?

The important fact here is that Europe was trying to get to "the Indies"
desperately. This is the kernel.

> I have read translations of Columbus diaries and would welcome
> relevant portions in the original Spanish to clarify this point. If
> I have in error, asserted something untrue, I wish to correct
> it. But the assertions and accompanying non-sequiturs given so far
> do not establish for me that this notion of the origin of the word
> "Indian" given by Mattiessen and others is incorrect.

Columbus's diaries were a masterpiece of verbose concealing. He was
not exactly Spanish, to begin with, which is hardly surprising for the
times. He was simply a Mediterranean (Genoan) sailor-trader who, among
many others, tried to make money by circumventing the Arab blockage of
trade with the East. It is not he who called "indios" the
inhabitants. The habit took root afterwards, during the decade or so
that elapsed from "discovery" and the recognition of the difference
between America and Asia.

> Nestor wrote:
> And about America and Columbus, too. What the Spanish and Portuguese
> explorers were after was, precisely, what was known (in the mid 1450s)
> as "Las Indias" or "As Indias".  Translation would be "The Indies", as
> in "West Indies".
> When Columbus stumbled upon what was to become "America" once it was
> recognized as a new continent, he was absolutely convinced that he had
> made land on the Indies and that Ptolomeus was right in his
> measurement of the perimeter of the globe. P.'s was a "small" globe, a
> globe that would not accomodate a Pacific Ocean in between the new
> land and Asia. Thus, the new land was known as "las Indias" (wherefrom
> "indiano" as an adjective roughly equating with "Latin American" and
> Víctor Raúl Haya de la Torre's proposition that the nation South of
> the Bravo River be called "Indoamérica").
> Thus, not only was India well known as such. It also gave name to the
> new lands. Columbus never accepted the idea that he had not reached
> the Indies. At most, he accepted that his fleets had made land in
> "Cipango", that is, Japan.
> Response (Jim C)Again this is interesting and gets more to the point being
> discussed. It could be, as a point of logic, that both assertions are
> correct: what Columbus thought he has looking for and found and what he
> called it plus and versus, the origins of what were called Los Indios and
> later Indians?

It is a logical possibility, but not exactly what happened. If one
goes to the sources of the times (not only Columbus, who was very
interested in denying any relation between America and India, but also
those who came after him: they refer to the different groups by their
specific name, but all of them are linked to the _Concejo de Indias_,
which meant "colonies" in general, in Spain: thus "colonials" were
indios (if aboriginal) or indianos (if migrants from Spain). These are
my two cents, some further research would prove the point.

As to my alleged righteousness, I simply apologize. It was not my
intention to hurt anyone, lest of all Jim C. But it is true that many
things are said in the North on Latin America that don't have the best
of the groundings. This said, I obviously admit that I may be
wrong. My sources are not a few, however. Only that I can't go to the
library right now and do a search.

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar

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