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When Christopher Columbus arrived at Hispaniola during his first transatlantic voyage in the year A.D. 1492, the island had already been settled by Native Americans for about 5,000 years. The occupants in Columbus’s time were a group of Arawak Indians called Tainos who lived by farming, were organized into five chiefdoms, and numbered around half a million (the estimates range from 100,000 to 2,000,000). Columbus initially found them peaceful and friendly, until he and his Spaniards began mistreating them. Unfortunately for the Tainos, they had gold, which the Spanish coveted but didn’t want to go to the work of mining themselves. Hence the conquerors divided up the island and its Indian population among individual Spaniards, who put the Indians to work as virtual slaves, accidentally infected them with Eurasian diseases, and murdered them. By the year 1519, 27 years after Columbus’s arrival, that original population of half a million had been reduced to about 11,000, most of whom died that year of smallpox to bring the population down to 3,000.