Bartolomé de Las Casas:
Savior of Indoamerica?
The early discourse of the New World then is full of questions that
cannot be asked or answers that cannot be understood.
—Stephen Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions
I am Indian: Because of the ignorance of the white men who arrived
to the lands ruled by my grandparents. I am Indian: Now I am not
ashamed to be called this way, because I know of the historical
mistake of the Whites.
—Natalio Hernández, Canto nuevo de Anahuac
fortuitous landing on the island of Guana-
haní, the morning of October 12, 1492, marked the irreversible demise of
one world, the expansion of another, and the birth of a third and unique
creature, Indoamerica.∞ This was a ‘‘New World’’ shaped by the collision
and fusion of conquerors and conquered, the forced encounter of Europe
and the wondrous ‘‘an other world’’ (un otro mundo) encountered by the
Genoese adventurer.≤ From its inception Indoamerica became a world
shaped by the intense, and often violent and cruel, interaction between
colonizers and colonized.
America, as the new continent was baptized, created boundless oppor-
tunities and unexpected challenges for the Europeans and their attempt to
impose their way of life on the newly discovered territory and its inhabi-
tants.≥ The dialectics of creation and destruction so evident in the birth of
this New World, a world so radically different from both progenitors, was
defined by the hegemonic domination of the Europeans, and the subser-