De Vaca vs Las Casas

When asked which accounting is most memorable to me, Cabeza de Vaca’s book, Adventures in the Unknown Interior of America or Bartolome de las Casas A Brief Account of the Destruction of the Indies, I think the choice is obvious. Although I loved learning about the different Native American tribes in de Vaca’s story the horrific events in De La Casas were daunting.

La Casas, a Spanish priest, along with other Spanish men made it to a North American shore. What started out as an exploration for gold quickly turned to pure evilness. I believe, in La Casas telling of the story, he did indeed exaggerate some of the details where exaggeration was not at all necessary. Now on the island of Hispaniola the Spaniards reign of terror begins with the murdering and enslaving of the Native Americans. Which didn’t make sense at all because the Native Americans outnumbered the Spaniards by a lot according to La Casas. Perhaps this was another exaggeration? The crimes being done to the Native Americans were heinous. Just trying to write about them is difficult, and that’s an understatement. He witnessed, what he claims to be, upwards of six thousand children being murdered after their parents died from being overworked in mines. These crimes being perpetrated on any human being are out of the realm of understanding.


There were many governors, but in 1514 when a particular Spanish governor landed on the continent he seemed to be the most bloody tyrant of all. His goal, according to La Casas, was to depopulate the region and supposedly had more blood on his hands than any other dictator. He also tried to rack, torment, force and extort gold from the Indians. He proved to be the most vicious dictator in the region.

How is it that these Spaniards referred to themselves as “Christians”? It was so bad that one Indian while being tortured said he would rather go to hell than be in heaven with the Spaniards. Which leaves the Indians with the misconception of what Christianity is. This is certainly understandable from what the Indians had to endure. How could this not be the most memorable of the two stories.

Isaiah 5:20 “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.”

This is truly a heartbreaking story of the devil at work. There is simply no other explanation in my opinion. La Casas believed this to be true as well, as evidenced, when he said that the Native Americans would be better off dealing with actual devils. There is great contentment in knowing that if the Spaniards did not get punished by the king they did, most certainly, get punished by God.


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