People vs. Columbus Trial Results

We recently had our first trial of the year… The People vs. Christopher Columbus! (Credit should be given to The Zinn Education Project & Rethinking Schools for this activity)

Students read about Columbus and his “discovery” of a new world. It is a clear fact that people lived on the islands that Columbus landed on for a long time before his discovery. It is also clear that those Native people were gone soon after the contact. Just how who is at fault for this near extermination is the main focus of our trial. Students were to place blame for the murder and cruel treatment of the Tainos Indians that were on Hispaniola (Present day Cuba).

We focused on 5 different groups of people involved in the maltreatment of Natives around 1492 – 1500. Christopher Columbus himself, Columbus’ men, King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella, The Tainos Indians, and the System of Empire (I know these are not people, but it is GREAT for the discussion).

Student groups were asked to place blame on the other groups. Students could take blame for the poor treatment but they could not take all the blame, they needed to place blame on another group as well. Jurors heard their arguments and had the chance to question them before making their ruling. Juries were given 100% blame that they could ration out among the parties of students.

The results are in.

1st Hour:

Tainos 0% Blame

Columbus 20% Blame

Columbus’ Men 10% Blame

King & Queen 35% Blame

System 35% Blame

 2nd Hour:

Tainos 5% Blame

Columbus 40% Blame

Columbus’ Men 30% Blame

King & Queen 15% Blame

System 10% Blame

 3rd Hour:

Tainos 3% Blame

Columbus 40% Blame

Columbus’ Men 20% Blame

King & Queen 32% Blame

System 5% Blame

4th Hour:

Tainos 0% Blame (Note: The jury mentioned that no group mentioned any guilt)

Columbus 35% Blame (Too much ego & power took over, blamed 2 other groups)

Columbus’ Men 25% Blame

King & Queen 30% Blame

System 10% Blame

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