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Discovery of Aruba
As the European conquerors continued to invade the Caribbean following the voyages of Italian Christopher Columbus, sailing under the flag of Spain, so, too, Aruba was discovered. In 1499, Spanish conquistador Alonso de Ojeda, arrived on these shores to find a peaceful tribal society of Aruaca (Arawak) Indians, who had migrated from the South American mainland to avoid confrontation with the powerful Caribe Indians. 
 
Indians on Aruba
From relics dating back to 2500 B.C., found at various sites around Aruba, it has been established that small family groups lived from fish, shellfish, and sea turtles and used tools made from shells and stones. They later became farmers and made large-vessel pottery such as cooking pots, burial urns and baking griddles along with fine polished and painted pieces that were highly sophisticated in manufacture and design. Recent excavations in the Santa Cruz area have provided remains of wooden house posts and elaborate burial rituals.

Hispaniola
 
The arrival of the Spanish ended the period of a self-sustained culture and society.  Because the island lacked the gold and other precious metals sought by the conquerors, Aruba was spared the horrors of disease and harsh treatment being inflicted elsewhere in the Caribbean. However, in 1515, the entire Indian population was abducted to work on the cattle and horse farms on Hispaniola, the Island now shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
 
Colonization
Some were allowed to return to Aruba after 1527 when Spain began active colonization of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire. The exchange of plants and animals from the Old World  like grapes and wheat, pigs, chickens, goats, horses and cattle with the things from the the New World like staples, corn, potatoes, and tomatoes, tobacco and chocolate over time enriched the diets of the Caribbean inhabitants and peoples of the Americas. This relieved them from their tasks as farmers, porters and work animals. 
 
Christianity
The Spaniards also introduced Christianity to Aruba with missionaries to convert the Indians and introduce the Spanish language. No written documents survived detailing the religious conversions, so according to oral history a Cacique Indian from the South American mainland arrived with a small group of Spaniards and proceeded inland where they erected a cross.  To commemorate this historic event, a large cross was placed high on a rocky spar in Santa Cruz (Ser’i Noka) in 1968.

Five hundred years later…

Five hundred years after the Spaniards discovered Aruba, the rest of the world continues to discover this small island of hospitable people, elegant beaches and the assorted cuisines of the many settlers who followed the Indians and the Spaniards and later the Dutch.

Status Aparte
 
Of very high value and importance in the Aruban History was the "fight" for it's autonomous state in the Dutch Kingdom, the "Status Aparte".  It was the perseverance, courage and determination of one Betico Croes that finally convinced the Dutch government that the people of Aruba had the right to "self determination".


Monuments

Walking across downtown Oranjestad, Aruba’s capital, you are going to find a lot of beautiful monuments. These date from the time that Aruba was a Dutch colony to even earlier than that.

 

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