Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, 'Indians of the Rio Grande' (1528-1536)

Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, 'Indians of the Rio Grande' (1528-1536)

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Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, "Indians of the Rio Grande" (1528-1536) The story of Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca is unique among the Spanish explorers and conquistadors who came to the New World. Cabeza de Vaca, along with half the crew of explorer Pánfilo de Navarez’s ship, were stranded in present-day Florida and made their way across the Gulf of Mexico in search of help in 1528. When they arrived in Mexico, they were themselves enslaved by the native peoples. After six years of forced labor, Cabeza de Vaca and two others escaped and made their way through present-day Texas and into Mexico City. During his travels, Cabeza de Vaca kept an extensive journal of the lands they passed through and their interactions with the native peoples along the way. The following is an excerpt from that journal. They are so accustomed to running that, without resting or getting tired, they run from morning till night in pursuit of a deer, and kill a great many, because they follow until the game is worn out, sometimes catching it alive. Their huts are of matting placed over four arches. They carry them on their back and move every two or three days in quest of food; they plant nothing that would be of any use. They are very merry people, and even when famished do not cease to dance and celebrate their feasts and ceremonials. Their best times are when "tunas" (prickly pears) are ripe, because then they have plenty to eat and spend the time in dancing and eating day and night. As long as these tunas last they squeeze and open them and set them to dry. When dried they are put in baskets like figs and kept to be eaten on the way. The peelings they grind and pulverize. All over this country there are a great many deer, fowl and other animals which I have before enumerated. Here also they come up with cows; I have seen them thrice and have eaten their meat. They appear to me of the size of those in Spain. Their horns are small, like those of the Moorish cattle; the hair is very long, like fine wool and like a peajacket; some are brownish and others black, and to my taste they have better and more meat than those from here. Of the small hides the Indians make blankets to cover themselves with, and of the
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This note was uploaded on 11/14/2011 for the course MATH 201 taught by Professor Doolittle during the Spring '11 term at Hawaii.

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Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, 'Indians of the Rio Grande' (1528-1536)

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