1492 from a Bicultural Perspective
Encounters Unforeseen was published in 2017, during the 525th anniversary of the first
encounters between Columbus and Native Americans. Andrew’s blogs posted in 2017 and 2018
to recount what happened on the same dates in 1492 and 1493 are archived below, reordered
chronologically. The archive also includes the sketches of the book’s protagonists and some
additional photos and commentary that Andrew concurrently posted on Facebook. Dates are
based on the Julian calendar used by Europeans in 1492.
Sketches of Protagonists
Encounters Unforeseen’s protagonists are three historic Taíno chieftains—Caonabó, Guacanagarí, and Guarionex, Spain’s Queen Isabella, Columbus, and a Taíno captive Columbus seized. Portions of their life stories are sketched below.
In October 1492, the Taíno peoples of the Caribbean lived mostly in territory within modern Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, eastern Cuba, and Jamaica, and, to the north, the smaller islands of the Bahamas and the Turks & Caicos. Haiti was one of the...
Saturday, October 6, 1492
The crews of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María understood that the ships had sailed beyond the distance Columbus had promised for making landfall. They had been out of sight of land for a month, far longer than any other voyage they knew of. Murmurs of anxiety and...
Tuesday, October 9, 1492
While the horizons remained landless, the crews of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa María were soothed that many birds were flying about—signaling land was nearby. Peace then reigned on the Taíno Haiti (i.e., modern Haiti and the Dominican Republic), with five caciques...
Wednesday, October 10, 1492
Crew on the Santa María clamored for retreat, but the ships sailed on. Unknown to Columbus and crews, they were approaching the eastern side of the Bahamian archipelago. Taínos living in the modern Bahamas were referred to as Lucayans, meaning “island people.” They...
Thursday, October 11, 1492
The seas were the roughest yet encountered, with waves crashing over the decks. But the signs the ships were approaching land were unmistakable, and the crews were heartened. The Niña retrieved a green branch with red berries intact, fresh as if just cut. The Pinta...
Friday, October 12, 1492
At about 2:00 a.m., a seaman serving lookout on the Pinta shouted that land was to the northwest, and the Pinta’s lombard was discharged. Sailors on the three ships cried, embraced, and sang a hymn to the Virgin Mary for watching over them. The ships quartered...
Sunday, October 14, 1492
Columbus sailed southwest from Guanahaní to search for Japan and gold. The map below—drawn for Encounters Unforeseen—shows the Taíno Caribbean which Columbus would explore, with Taíno names for islands. Before departing Guanahaní, Columbus abducted seven Guanahanían...
Monday, October 15, 1492
The ships anchored off the island the Taínos called Manigua (the modern Rum Cay). Soon, two of the Guanahaníans jumped overboard and escaped.
Wednesday, October 17, 1492
Columbus wrote his Journal as a report to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. On October 17, he indicated in the Journal that he was sailing in the “Indies” (as he had promised them) and referred to the Taínos as “Indians.” Isabella and Ferdinand approach Barcelona,...
Sunday, October 21, 1492
The Guanahanían captives inform Columbus of two large islands to the south, Cuba and Haiti. Columbus then believes Cuba must be Japan.
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