Latin America Solidarity Centre

Columbus on Trial!

AIM

For students to consider the impacts of the European discovery of the Americas on indigenous people.

LINKS TO THE CURRICULUM

Senior Cycle:

I. Basic Communicative Proficiency 7, 8, 9, 10

 

METHODOLOGY

Give students an open-ended question to research in groups. Was Columbus’ discovery of America a good thing. Groups are allowed to use the internet to research some of the benefits and disadvantages of Columbus’ discovery of America.

Students are then set up in a court with different groups – a Jury of 12, a Judge who keeps order, and two groups representing the legal teams of Christopher Columbus and the indigenous communities.

Groups are given 5 minutes to prepare their arguments, and then present them to the court.

Although students may use English if they get stuck, give them basic structures to help them:

Colón era bueno porque….

Colón era malo porque…

Colón es inocente porque…

Colón no es inocente porque…

In the end, the jury vote on whether or not Columbus is innocent or guilty. The judge gets to pass sentence.

Explain to students that some countries in Latin America have stopped having a National Holiday called Columbus Day, and changed the name to ‘Day of Indigenous Resistance’ (Venezuela, Nicaragua) or even ‘Day of Mourning for the Misery, Diseases and Hunger Brought by the European Invasion of America’ (Bolivia). Ask students to discuss if they think it is a good idea to change the name or not, and to give reasons for their answers.

CONNECTIONS TO IRELAND AND TAKING ACTION

Ask your students to organize an event for October 14th to commemorate the results of Columbus’ ‘discovery’ of the Americas and its effects on indigenous communities.