History is written with surviving documents – how do the documents that historians use to write the early history of Atlantic exploration and “discovery” affect our understanding of this moment?  What accounts do we have that tell us about the experience and intentions of explorers and conquerors – and what accounts do we have about how they were received by indigenous populations? How do mid colonial documents illustrate how radical the changes were between first contact and the establishment of colonial society? 
 Chicago style, 600 words
Primary source:
These two primary sources convey some of what the very early European explorers wrote about what they experienced on their voyages. The radically different contents of the letter have much to do with to whom the letters were addressed, and who each of the authors were and what the expectations of each were

Letter from Columbus to Luis de SantangelDownload Letter from Columbus to Luis de Santangel
Michele de Cuneo 1493 first prates-1.pdf

Secondary sources:

This source is not actually a secondary source, but a commentary on one – but it is a shortcut to considering that the Spaniards were most likely not to first foreigners to set foot on the American continent: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2011/08/24/1493-charles-mann/Links to an external site.
This short scholarly article considers the role of language and translators in the conquest of the Americas, not just in its act and fact, but in how it has contributed to the telling of this history:   Brickhouse 1993, rereading columbus.pdf Download Brickhouse 1993, rereading columbus.pdf