“And because all the people who could do so fled to the mountains to escape these inhuman, ruthless, and ferocious acts, the Spanish captains, enemies of the human race, pursued them with the fierce dogs they kept which attacked the Indians, tearing them to pieces and devouring them. And because on few and far between occasions, the Indians justifiably killed some Christians, the Spaniards made a rule among themselves that for every Christian slain by the Indians, they would slay a hundred Indians.” -Las Casas
My original reading of this passage was that it was just another narrative of the plight Native Americans had to face. Now, after beginning my paper which specifically focuses on how religion participated in the obliteration of Native Americans, I view this passage completely different. The significance of this piece by Las Casas is to show the true ruthless and inhuman nature settlers had toward the natives. It portrays just how worthless the life of these human beings was to, in this case, the Spanish captains. I think history informed and changed the way I perceived this reading. Looking that this passage, I feel like it could even be compared to slavery in America. It began with the widespread murder of Indians and was followed up with the enslavement of African Americans later on. The same tactics and values were used in both scenarios. For example, similar to the natives, slaves we not seen as people but things to be owned. Their lives were not valued as human beings. They were controlled and hunted by attack dogs just like the Native Americans before them. While it may be a stretch, reading this passage closely mirrors slavery and the brutal treatment they endured. It shows how history clearly repeats itself when it comes to dominating, killing and oppressing others. In addition, religion plays a huge role in the enslavement and murder of other people. While religion usually is supposed to be a loving and accepting state of reasoning, settlers used their faith to justify their heinous and murderous behavior. As seen in this passage they used their faith to convince themselves and others that they were better people and more valuable human beings. This is seen clearly when Las Casas writes, “for every Christian slain by the Indians, they would slay a hundred Indians”. They value 1 Christian over 100 Indian lives. This implausible ratio truly reveals how religion fueled the justification of degrading and devaluing human life when in effect, it’s supposed to do the complete opposite.
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