Columbus and Los Indios as 'God's People'

Martinez needs to know more of "the annals of human history" before labeling Columbus' famous mistake a unique case of "identity genocide." I can name a people who have had to acknowledge being something other than who they are--the Germans.

In their own language the "Germans" are Deutsche and their current dwelling place is Deutschland . German is an ancient Gaelic word meaning "brother" or "cousin" and was given to the northern peoples we think of as Germans when the ancient Celts first made contact with them, perhaps about 300 BC.

That's more than 2,000 years' worth of bearing a name given by others in another language.

My names, like my peoples, have undergone numerous metamorphoses, including identity additions like Catholic , Lutheran , American and Angeleno . Martinez himself is a Yaqui-Comanche with a Spanish surname; he is also an English speaker and Angeleno like me. Like all of us, he is the product of endless syntheses.

Whether such synthesis is good or bad can be debated endlessly as well. What we should realize is that the debate includes everyone . Columbus' anecdotal error was but one among many.

RUTH ANN RAFTERY

Sherman Oaks

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