Columbus Day always unleashes arguments about whether Christopher Columbus discovered the New World or was a genocidal conquistador. According to Charles C. Mann, the author of the best-selling books, 1491 and 1493, the truth is much more complicated.
Mann argues that the common depictions of Columbus — which show European men standing around while naked natives bow in their presence — aren’t accurate, as well as most historical accounts of what happened during that time.
Columbus didn’t recognize that the Taíno people he came across in the Carribbean had built their own civilization, including complex trade networks and agricultural systems. And their way of life was almost wiped out when many of them died from diseases brought over by settlers. Columbus enslaved the few that survived.
The Taíno people, however, fought back, including making homemade bombs by stuffing hot peppers into gourds, which would erupt into hot-pepper gas, according to Mann.
This segment originally aired Oct. 6, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.