arawak indians

King Ferdinand's letter to the Taino-Arawak Indians

In the name of King Ferdinand and Juana, his daughter, Queen of Castile and Leon, etc., conquerors of barbarian nations, we notify you as best we  can that our Lord God Eternal created Heaven and earth and a man and woman from whom we all descend for all times and all over the world. In the 5,000 years since creation the multitude of these generations caused  men to divide and establish kingdoms in various parts of the world, among  whom God chose St. Peter as leader of mankind, regardless of their law,  sect or belief. He seated St. Peter in Rome as the best place from which  to rule the world but he allowed him to establish his seat in all parts  of the world and rule all people, whether Christians, Moors, Jews,  Gentiles or any other sect. He was named Pope, which means admirable and  greatest father, governor of all men. Those who lived at that time obeyed  St. Peter as Lord and superior King of the universe, and so did their  descendants obey his successors and so on to the end of time.

The late Pope gave these islands and mainland of the ocean and the  contents hereof to the above-mentioned King and Queen, as is certified  in writing and you may see the documents if you should so desire.  Therefore, Their Highnesses are lords and masters of this land; they were acknowledged as such when this notice was posted, and were and are being  served willingly and without resistance; then, their religious envoys  were acknowledged and obeyed without delay, and all subjects  unconditionally and of their own free will became Christians and thus  they remain. Their Highnesses received their allegiance with joy and  benignity and decreed that they be treated in this spirit like good and  loyal vassals and you are under the obligation to do the same.

Therefore, we request that you understand this text, deliberate on its  contents within a reasonable time, and recognize the Church and its  highest priest, the Pope, as rulers of the universe, and in their name  the King and Queen of Spain as rulers of this land, allowing the religious fathers to preach our holy Faith to you. You own compliance as a duty to the King and we in his name will receive you with love and charity, respecting your freedom and that of your wives and sons and your  rights of possession and we shall not compel you to baptism unless you,  informed of the Truth, wish to convert to our holy Catholic Faith as  almost all your neighbors have done in other islands, in exchange for  which Their Highnesses bestow many privileges and exemptions upon you.  Should you fail to comply, or delay maliciously in so doing, we assure  you that with the help of God we shall use force against you, declaring  war upon you from all sides and with all possible means, and we shall  bind you to the yoke of the Church and of Their Highnesses; we shall  enslave your persons, wives and sons, sell you or dispose of you as the  King sees fit; we shall seize your possessions and harm you as much as we  can as disobedient and resisting vassals.  And we declare you guilty of  resulting deaths and injuries, exempting Their Highnesses of such guilt  as well as ourselves and the gentlemen who accompany us. We hereby  request that legal signatures be af fixed to this text and pray those  present to bear witness for us, etc.