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The MuralThe 360 Degree View

Four early inhabitants

These four figures represent Alfredo Nuñez Cabeza De Vaca and his companions, Alonso Maldanado, Andres Dorantes and the Arabian Estevancio “The Black.” Cabeza de Vaca was the first European to describe America from Florida thru Arizona. His writings are the oldest written history we have of Native Americans. De Vaca, along with Maldonado, Dorantes, and Dorantes’s personal servant Estevanico, were a part of the Pánfilo de Narváez expedition which set out from Spain in 1527. Their mission was to establish a colony in what is today North America, but it was destined to end in tragedy. In November, 1528, two barges and 80 men landed on East Island, Louisiana. The barges were destroyed, and only 15 of the men survived.

Cabeza de Vaca, Alonzo Maldonado and Andres Dorantes decided to travel eastward, taking with them Dorantes’s personal servant, Estevanico. They lived among the natives, passing from village to village, eating straw, roots, worms, spiders, and bitter fruits and nuts, practicing the art of healing, and moving on, often accompanied by hundreds of Indian guides and well-wishers. In late January 1536, they met up with Spanish soldiers on a slaving expedition, and they arrived in Mexico City in July of that year.

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If you were traveling with Cabeza De Vaca, what kinds of things would you include in your journal? How would they be different from the things Cabeza recorded in his account?

Related Links:

From the PBS series, “The West”

Cabeza de Vaca’s own account of his journey, translated by Fanny Bandelier

Describes the Conquest of Native America, beginning with Cabeza de Vaca's journey

A site dedicated to Estevanico

Read More, Learn More:

Bishop, Morris. 1933. The Odyssey of Cabeza de Vaca. New York: Century Company.

Long, Haniel. 1992. The Marvelous Adventure of Cabeza de Vaca. Dearlake, CA: The Dawn Horse Press.