The continent was already open, which is why a Leif Eriksen or Christopher Columbus could come freely and think it was their own. But the continent was far from unpeopled or uncivilized or unappreciated or undiscovered.
Individuals may discover things for themselves or others in this myopic nationalist narcissistic world, which doesn’t preclude that fact that things they discover might have already been discovered.
Brave and stupid men stumbled on a paradise and claimed it for their own people. Leif Ericson called it “Markland” because it was wooded. Then they found grapevines so they called it “Vineland.” Christopher Columbus sailed for Japan or the Spice Islands but landed in the Bahamas on an island its people called “Guanahani,” but Columbus called it “San Salvador.”
Christopher Columbus was confident that the people whom he had discovered would become Catholic since he thought they had no religion of their own.
Hernando de Soto didn’t find a city of gold. He didn’t conquer the continent. He died near the bank of the Mississippi, so in that event he became somewhat of a good guy.
These Spaniards lied to the people, the natives of Guachoya. Lying was their modus operandi for maintaining their safety in a land they didn’t understand. Yet they considered themselves honorable.
Jesuit missionary Jacques Marquette called the people “savages,” even those among the Menominee whom he acknowledged were “good Christians.” He called the Illinois whom they met “savages” and “a barbarous and unknown people,” even though they offered Marquette and Joliet, in a token of peace, their pipes to smoke.
They came and, if they didn’t die here, they left and the worst of it was they showed to others that they could come and overcome.