Desperate to find the gold Columbus had assumed was hidden on the island to pay back his investors, he ordered all Indians to produce a certain amount of gold every three months in return for a copper token they were forced to hang from their necks. Any Indian subsequently found without such a token would have his hands cut off and be left to bleed to death. Unfortunately for the Indians, Columbus was wrong about the gold deposits he expected to find; as a result, most of the Indians were simply hunted down with dogs and murdered after failing to meet their gold quotas.
In the American West, the situation was just as bad and equally obscured in modern-day historical references. Generally, American history of the settlement of the Western Territories focuses on the hardships encountered by the Settlers and of their skirmishes with American Indians. Moreover, most of those encounters are portrayed as unprovoked attacks by savage Indian marauders who killed innocent white families.
I truth, such encounters did occur, but much less frequently than instances where American military forces (and rogue posses of Settlers) simply hunted down Indian tribes and massacred their entire populations, including women and children.
Stannards central purpose is to raise awareness that the atrocities committed by the European explorers and the American Settlers of the Wild West actually dwarf the historical references to genocide that we ordinarily associate with the concept of “holocausts.” In comparison, the holocausts perpetrated against the native peoples of the Americas and against the American Indians are much more extensive than those to which we have devoted so much more historical attention. Most importantly, while we recognize individuals like Adolph Hitler (for example) as modern-day criminals of monstrous proportions, we still regard Columbus as a hero commemorated by parades every year with virtually no awareness of the magnitude of the atrocities that he and his contemporaries perpetrated on innocent.