The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927

The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927

The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927

The Red Atlantic: American Indigenes and the Making of the Modern World, 1000-1927

Synopsis

From the earliest moments of European contact, Native Americans have played a pivotal role in the Atlantic experience, yet they often have been relegated to the margins of the region's historical record. The Red Atlantic, Jace Weaver's sweeping and highly readable survey of history and literature, synthesizes scholarship to place indigenous people of the Americas at the center of our understanding of the Atlantic world. Weaver illuminates their willing and unwilling travels through the region, revealing how they changed the course of world history.

Indigenous Americans, Weaver shows, crossed the Atlantic as royal dignitaries, diplomats, slaves, laborers, soldiers, performers, and tourists. And they carried resources and knowledge that shaped world civilization--from chocolate, tobacco, and potatoes to terrace farming and suspension bridges. Weaver makes clear that indigenous travelers were cosmopolitan agents of international change whose engagement with other societies gave them the tools to advocate for their own sovereignty even as it was challenged by colonialism.

Excerpt

Beneath the Fall and Beyond:
Navigating the Red Atlantic

On March 4, 1493, his battered caravel Niña in need of repairs, Christopher Columbus put into Lisbon, Portugal. Eleven days later, he arrived back at Palos de la Frontera, the Spanish port from which he had set sail in August of the previous year. His return, while hailed, created a problem for the church.

Columbus brought with him a number of captives who appeared to be human. These beings posed no cognitive dissonance for the mariner himself. He, after all, believed that he had reached the Indies, that is to say, the islands off the coast of Asia. He died in 1506 still firm in that conviction. He was the only one.

How were these human-like beings that Columbus brought back from his voyage to be accounted for? Biblical exegesis of the time was clear that there were only three continents, Europe, Africa, and Asia, each of which had been populated by the progeny of a different son of Noah after the Deluge. What was one to make of the Admiral of the Ocean Sea’s peculiar cargo?

On May 4, two months after Columbus’s return landfall on the Iberian Peninsula, Pope Alexander VI issued the papal bull Inter Caetera. Although the document did nothing to address the humanity of the inhabitants of the Americas (that issue would not be settled for years to come), it did authorize their conquest. It began, “Among other things well pleasing to the Divine Majesty and cherished of our heart, this assuredly ranks highest, that in our times especially the Catholic faith and the Christian religion be exalted and be everywhere increased and . . .

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