The Shipwrecked Men by Alvar Nunez Cabeza de VacaI have seen the author referenced in any number of early Caribbean and Gulf histories, never got around to reading the root text. Found this copy in the donate box at the Library and figured it was worth a read finally.
It was worth it, if only to dip into a memoir of what travel and exploration entailed in the 16th Century, in short, it was NO JOKE! The disparity in the simplest of transit woes between 21st century me an Cabesa de Vaca are so vast as to make any concern I have in the modern day seem a trifle; this book puts some real perspective on the most basic comforts I take for granted on a daily basis.
Also of note, the degree to which de Vaca had to effectively go native and cast off much of the hubris that led him on the expedition, to survive the ordeal and make it home. Starting with over six hundred men, his expedition returns single-digit humans home, he himself goes from conqueror, to slave to proto-deity and back a number of times. He basically walked across the entire southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico, with nothing, begging for everything and surviving almost entirely due to the giving nature of the indigenous groups he encounters.
Its easy to pick the low-hanging fruit and simply criticize colonial exploitation et al and dismiss the whole tale, but I think its worth really examining the more meaningful underlying personal journey of de Vaca as he has to manifest the principals of his faith and learn an unorthodox understanding of the giving humanity of those simply seen as heathens prior to his tribulations. The whole book shows the actions of every indigenous group encountered to be more in line with stated christian mores than the behavior/actions of every European Christian in country; de Vaca realizes this inconsistency of thought before he gets out of harms way, and speaks up (which changes nothing for the indigenous folks, no spolier there, you know how that story ends).
Very interesting and enlightening memoir.
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca Facts
By September all but his party of 60 had perished; it reached the shore near present-day Galveston , Texas. In the following years he and his companions spent much time among nomadic Indians, serving as slaves in order to be cared for by them. Though he found only the gravest hardship and poverty during his wanderings, he made his way back to Mexico in He recounted his adventures in Naufragios. His power was usurped by a rebel governor, Domingo Martinez de Irala , who imprisoned him and had him deported to Spain , where he was convicted of malfeasance in office and banished to service in Africa. Info Print Cite. Submit Feedback.
During eight years of traveling across the US Southwest, he became a trader and faith healer to various Native American tribes before reconnecting with Spanish civilization in Mexico in Cabeza de Vaca is sometimes considered a proto- anthropologist for his detailed accounts of the many tribes of Native Americans that he encountered. In , Cabeza de Vaca was appointed adelantado of what is now Argentina , where he was governor and captain general of New Andalusia. Although his sentence was eventually commuted, he never returned to the Americas. He died in Seville. Despite the family's status as minor nobility, they possessed modest economic resources. He had shown the Spanish king a secret mountain pass, marked by a cow's skull, enabling the king to win the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa against the Muslim Moors in
He was known for exploring the New World. During the Narvaez expedition conducted in , he was considered as one of the four survivors. The exact birth date and death of de Vaca was not known. Here are other interesting facts about de Vaca to notice:. De Vaca was recognized as a faith healer for the different tribes of Native Americans during the eight years of expedition in United States Southwest.
Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca Images
Cabeza de Vaca left Spain for the Americas in June Others of the explorers landed, only to die of starvation or Indian attack. Cabeza de Vaca, however, and a few companions survived. From to , Cabeza de Vaca and these others lived a meagre life with the Karankawa Indians, in a state of semi-slavery and often separated from each other. During this time Cabeza de Vaca took advantage of his slight medical skills and remade himself as healer.
Cabeza de Vaca is remembered for his epic journey across the Americas. He was a survivor of the failed Narvaez expedition and would journey across the North American continent for eight years. He would pen books on his encounters with the natives that gave the perspective of who they were and how they conductive themselves. He would eventually return to Spain and would never return to the Americas. He was unlike the other Spanish Conquistadors in that he did not conquer with the sword because he did not have one, but he survived through intuition and tolerance.