Genocide Ship Visiting Portland--Protest, Anybody?
A replica of Christopher Columbus's ship, the "Nina," will be docked at the Eastbank Esplanade and open for tours from July 25 to August 3. Calling all anti-imperialists to protest this disgusting little imperialist charade, and maybe educate a few of our young people in the process.
Calling all activists for indigenous rights, Latin
American solidarity, and all around activists against
Tuesday's Portland Tribune reports that a replica of
one of Christopher Columbus's ships, the "Nina," will
be visiting Portland. It will be moored on the
Eastbank Esplanade, at the E. end of the Hawthorne
Bridge, and will be open for tours from 9am to 7pm,
Thursday July 25 through Saturday August 3. The
Tribune article (attached below) gushes profusely
about how wonderfully this replica was made, and what
a great historical experience this is. Yeah, great
As of Wednesday afternoon, the ship has already
arrived, so we've missed our chance to protest its
arrival, but anybody who wanted to show up TONIGHT
with a few protest signs might make the evening news
shots. (A friend of mine suggests the slogan
"Columbus was a Terrorist!") Another option would be
to protest the opening of tours, Thursday morning at
9am, which might attract some media attention. I
personally cannot do this, but would encourage others
to think about it.
My group, Portland Peaceful Response, may end up
planning some kind of protest action for next week. I
would be interested to hear from anybody else who
wants to plan some kind of organized protest, and/or
would be interested in working in coalition with PPR.
In the meantime, I would strongly encourage other
anti-imperialists to plan your own autonomous actions.
Anti-Columbus pickets? Letters to the Tribune
( email@example.com)? Street theater?
My friend makes the point that a major audience for
this "historical exhibit" is probably going to be
groups of kids. Wouldn't it be educational for them
to learn that there is actually DISSENT and OPPOSITION
to the blind veneration of imperialism?!
Yours for an anti-imperialist future,
A newer Niña discovers Portland
Replica of Columbus' favorite ship docks on the
BY PAUL DUCHENE
When the Columbus Foundation set out to rebuild the
great explorer's favorite ship — the Niña — for the
500th anniversary of his discovery of America, it
faced an overwhelming problem. Nobody knew how big it
The only reference to the Santa Clara's size
("Niña" was a nickname) was a single comment by
Christopher Columbus, unearthed in the Spanish
archives in Madrid, Spain. Columbus noted in 1498 —
his third voyage — that the Niña could carry 55 tons
of cargo, a ton equaling a huge barrel of port.
American engineer John Patrick Sarsfield knew that
15th-century naval architects drew no plans, working
from a complicated series of ratios. But finally he
came up with a starting point.
The Niña was a four-masted "caravel redonda," and
Sarsfield was able to figure out its proportions from
that single specification. From it, he knew that the
keel was the same length as the mast, and the beam, or
width, was one-third the length of the ship.
Sarsfield already had figured out where to build
the replica. He'd been in the Peace Corps at Valença
on the Bahia coast of Brazil and knew that ships still
were constructed there in the traditional Portuguese
fashion. The keel was laid on the replica Niña in
1986, and the ship was completed in 1991.
This week, captained by Morgan Sanger, the Niña
arrives in Portland from San Francisco. It will be
moored at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge and
open for tours.
Most American schoolchildren know that Columbus had
three ships, the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.
What's less well-known is that he disliked the Santa
Maria because it was slow and clumsy and transferred
cheerfully to the Niña after the Santa Maria was
wrecked off Hispaniola on its way to the New World.
After the fabled 1492 trip, the Niña made three
more voyages with Columbus and was even captured by
pirates in the Mediterranean — and retaken by its
owner — in between. Not much is know of the Pinta
after the first voyage.
Sanger, 51, has commanded the Niña for 10 years and
steered her 130,000 miles, he reckons — four times the
distance Columbus took the original. Between voyages
the Niña is based in Tortola in the British Virgin
Islands, where Sanger runs a boatyard.
He says his crew doesn't dress up in costumes; the
ship is so accurately reproduced it tells its own
story, aided by a 17-minute film.
"It's a great tool to educate kids," he says, which
is a good thing considering how little many of them
know about the world in Columbus' time.
"Some of the statements I've heard ... 'You're taking
that tiny little thing to sea?' If people had that
attitude then, nothing would even have been
Sanger say he's had plenty of time to think about
the conditions Columbus faced, in good weather and in
"The original boat must have been leaky, wet all
the time, stinking of animals down below. His crew had
scurvy until the Indians showed them how to eat fruit
to treat it, and they didn't have sleeping bags until
they learned that from the natives as well."
Sanger will be sailing with a crew of seven or
eight, rather than Columbus' complement of 27 men. He
prefers that the hands not be too experienced.
"It's a whole different way to travel and a very
short tour for crew members who have preconceived
notions and can't relearn," he says.
This is the last Pacific Coast visit for the Niña.
Next it returns to the Caribbean, which is much kinder
to wooden ships.
The original Niña was last heard of trading off
Africa's Pearl Coast in 1501.
"They all sink," Sanger says philosophically.
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