Francisco de Orellana, now there's a bad guy we hardly talk about. Columbus, Cortes, and even Pizarro sure, but what kind of man does it take to try to conquer the last bastion of pure humanity? That is to say, the rainforests now called, the Amazon. I often remark, that there should be no greater damnation of the idea that the conquistadors had superior minds than the natives, than by the very names they chose to replace the once deeply meaningful names given to the land by natives. And so I laugh when I tell people that the land of my forefathers, once called Chinchaysuyu; the "Ocelot Quarter", was named "Ecuador" by the Spanish, because it is on the equator. Or that the name Borikén; "land of brave people", was changed to Puerto Rico, or "rich port" because it was used as a port, to transport riches by the Spanish. I find no humor, however, in how the sacred rainforests of South America became known as the "Amazon". In 1540, Francisco de Orellana led the Spanish conquest of the South American rainforests, traversing downstream the Napo river. Orellana had many hostile encounters with rainforest tribes, such as the Omaguas, which history records as mere skirmishes, but were in fact, massacres, as the Spanish were not to be impeded in this conquest south. However, when Orellana encountered the warrior women of the Tapuya tribe, whom he and his men fought and killed, despite the fact that these Tapuya women were likely small and physically unimposing compared to the well-armored Spaniards, Orellana exaggerated his own bravery, and the supposed danger of the natives by dubbing the natives he murdered "Amazonians"; named after the tall, fierce, and dangerous women warriors of Greek legend. Thus, these Indigenous warrior women were cast in a threatening and formidible light, and violence was not only justified, but considered a brave act on the part of the Spanish explorers. The Amazon name began to ecompass both the river, and rainforests of this region. Yet Orellana would not leave our rainforests alive; he would be devoured by Pachamama, and her legion of rainforest creatures; our final contempt for him.
Written by: @IndigenousPride