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Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

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  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 527
  • Category: Survival

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The life and times of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca consisted of countless times of survival and preservation of relationships to survive. Cabeza de Vaca’s partnerships began with three other castaways, Andres Dorantes de Carranza, Alonso Del Castillo, and an African slave named Estevanico from the expedition of Panfilo de Narvaez which left Cuba in 1528 of which Cabeza de Vaca was the Treasurer. This expedition was destined for Florida, but the four found themselves tattered, torn and, hungry as they washed ashore near Galveston Island about seven months later at the feet of the Capoques. The four men cried and the Capoques cried along with them out of pity. Their next partnership to survival began when the Capoques brought them food. This relationship eventually soured and Cabeza de Vaca became enslaved to the Capoques through most of 1529-30 as he was expected to enter the cold coastal waters to gather food for them, among other duties. Eventually, Cabeza de Vaca earned the respect of the tribe and was offered the opportunity as a native trader. In 1535, the four survivors collected to forge ahead in their travels where they encountered more tribes, including Deguanes, Quevenes, Mariames, Guaycones, Yeguazes, and Arbados.

From 1533-34, Cabeza de Vaca lived as a trader with the Mariames who occupied South Texas. Next, he stayed with the Avavares in the summer of 1534. He took this opportunity to reunite with Dorantes, Castillo and Estevanico. They planned a meeting in the summer of 1535 and struck out through many Indian bands including the Coahuilteco, who offered venison, as well as blessings. The four eventually were revered as faith healers and allowed safe passage from band to band. Next, they encountered the “people of the cows” who were later identified as Teya, in 1541. On to the Querecho, who dominated the Southern High Plains and displaced the Teya and Jumano. Continuing their course, the four came across the people they identified as Corazones in late December of 1535. Traveling onward, in February of 1536, they witnessed brutal Spanish slavers mercilessly attacking Indians, though they were Christians. Finally, Cabeza de Vaca returned to Spain in 1537, where he wrote The Relacion, which was published in 1542, which included his observations and partnerships with many Indians as well as their noted diversity.

Cabeza de Vaca was worth knowing because of his steadfast commitment to, not only his survival, but the survival of Del Castillo, Dorantes, and Estevanico. The comparison of Cabeza de Vaca is unrivaled from The Human Tradition in Texas and The History of Texas as The Human Tradition in Texas offers so much more detail and appreciation. Cabeza de Vaca contributed to the history of Texas by his will to survive, to ensure the survival of his three other friends, and because of his literary contribution, The Relacion, published in 1542, about his observations, partnerships and diversity of the many tribes he encountered. This literature helps us to understand that, as people, no matter how different we seem based on skin color, class, national origin, beliefs, customs, religious, and political views, we should embrace one and other as our family.

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