1527-What a Surprise
I'm so flabbergasted, King Charles V just asked me to go on a voyage to Tampa Bay, Florida to make sure the Native Americans are treated well by other conquistadores! I'm still a bit jealous of Narváez because he's first in command and I got stuck in second. Finally we're ready so I said goodbye to friends and family. I'm going to miss this place because I've lived here for 37 years and the place has kind of kind of grown on me.
King Charles V is supplying me with 600 men including the slaves, armor, supplies, weapons, food, horses and things like beads to trade with the Indian tribes we meet.
Sailing over the ocean has been fun up until now because the whole crew is against me! All I did was simply suggest to wait to split up to look for gold until we have done what we came here for--to see how natives are treated. They want to go out there and start searching for gold right now. Also we're not at all familiar with the land. This is mutiny I tell you, mutiny!
We reached shore and right now Narváez is interrogating a tribe leader, after he stole what gold the the tribe has, the chief is telling us that there is gold in Apalachee Bay so we're setting off to our new destination. Our men are being scattered and attacked by the Indians, all of us are starving and sick. Some of us (242 men) have met up at a shore. I'm so worried, 356 of the men have died so what chance do I have?
This is our only chance of survival--eating our horses and melting the metal we have to make nails and building tools. The horses do not taste like chicken, but I'd rather eat my horse than die from starvation. The men are all scared that the Natives might come back so we're all putting in some effort to make boats out of trees, our clothes, and the primitive tools and nails we made from our armor. We plan to sail to Spain in our boats. Finally, we're done with the boats. We constructed five boats that can fit about fifty people.
We're setting sail, again, to float to Spain which according to the charts we made is forty-five miles away. There's a storm and our ships are separating and the storm isn't getting any better. I woke up (after I fell asleep) to find that it's Nov 6 and many of our men had died and we're coming slowly closer to shore. We have landed on a new island and met the natives, we gave shiny beads to them as a peace offering fearing they might kill us and in return they have given us food, but still food can fix a stomach but not a boat, so we're trying to fill the holes with our clothes. There are giant waves that are pulling our raft in the water so we better save the boat, oh too late. Great now we're naked, sick, hungry and our only chance to get off here is gone.We're all so sick and hungry it's almost impossible to stand up. There's only like 40 of us left and none of us can muster the strength to get up.
The Indians are taking us in and are trying to feed and heal us. All of us (well the ones that are still alive) have grown stronger from the food the Indians have given us. we've figured out the Indian tribe is called the Karankawas. The Natives have given us jobs to heal them to make sure we're not completely useless here's how we do it: we recite the Lord's Prayer and make the sign of a cross. it's been weeks now and the natives are getting cocky about feeding us and helping us so they decided that they wouldn't take care of us unless we helped out with jobs, most of us got stuck with pulling potatoes out of the swamps. It may sound easy but believe me, it's much harder than you think because of all the thorny plants on the swamp bottoms. The jobs are brutal even though the Indian wives do it every day.Everyday we get giant thorns stuck in our feet and hands but at least it's worth getting fed meat and maze (Indian corn).
I've had enough of this potato nonsense I'm going to leave this tribe and search for a new one. I've crossed to the mainland and I've begun to live with a new tribe, the Chorruco. I hardly know anything about the mainland Indians so I'll just have to learn. I've noticed trade is an important part of life on the mainland, but when there's war between tribes which happens continuously all trade stops. I'm the only one who can move freely between tribes because I'm not from here so I've decided to take this opportunity and become an Indian trader. As an Indian trader I move hundreds of miles a year, through any type of weather. I'm welcomed to any tribes with traded goods and they all feed me.
Once every year I return to the Karankawa and ask Oviedo (one of the only men left alive from my crew) to come join me, but every time he refuses now Oviedo may be younger and stronger but he's much more timid he knows even with life as difficult as it was with the Karankawa, he was always safe. Now I'm not just going to leave him behind so I've promised no Indians would harm him because I had befriended six Native American tribes, learned their languages and I know where all the tribes' trails lead. I even offered to carry him across the rivers because he can't swim, he just won't budge.
1533-Getting Back to Spain
My persistence is finally rewarded, Oviedo has finally decided to come to the mainland after five years. The two of us followed a trail west until we reached a large body of water. We're now at the end of the land I have traded on from here on out I know hardly anything of the people or land. We met some Indians that warned us that if we went any further we would meet the Maraeme Ygauce, two very dangerous tribes and that they had recently captured three Spaniards they were Captains Andrés Dorantes, Alfonso del Castillo and Estebanico, an African slave who served on the expedition. Oviedo's worst fears over took him and he turned back. I didn't hesitate, alone and unarmed I went into the Maraeme village. They took me and enslaved me. This is what I expected I planned to escape with them, but it was very hard because we're both in different villages and hardly come together long enough to talk much less stage an escape.
Sept 14 1534-We are the Children of the Sun
After a year and a half we finally met together while the Indians were distracted we ran out of our huts into safety we kept on running until we saw smoke. We don't know what tribe lives in the village or whether they are friendly or cruel. The village is home to the Avavare, who gave us welcoming very greatly, somehow the story got to them from more than six years ago when we were with the Karankawa and these Indians were very happy to see bearded men coming into their village with hopes of the medicine men healing them. They gave us food water and huts to rest in. We didn't have time to rest because all the Indians lined up that night complaining about headaches. We made the sign of the cross and blessed them, they all claimed to feel much better. the next day the Indians celebrated by giving us a feast of delicious food. Word spread and soon five tribes had heard and came to where we were to get healed.
We decided to start heading to Spain so we set off and everywhere we go the Indians line up to get healed and greet us greatly. We can't stay for too long so we keep moving on and more and more Indians follow us. We have come to be known as Children of the Sun. Thousands of the Native Americans are now following us. Everyday the hunters go out and bring back dead deer and other animals.We have come to a place far into New Spain with lots of food but it appears to have been attacked. I asked the Indians that live there what had happened and they told me men with white skin and beards had attacked them and taken there husbands, wives and children. We rushed off to the next village and saw it was chaos--all the buildings were burnt down. The place was almost empty but a few Indians were lying around starved and hungry. I went to a man named Melchior Díaz who helped me figure out a way to keep the Indians safe--convert them to Christianity because the Pope had forbidden taking Christian Indians. That day thousands of Indians were converted to Christianity and baptized.Now I can go back home.
Cabeza was born close to 1490 and died poor and homeless around 1558. He grew up in Spain and as a young man he fought in many wars. Cabeza de Vaca was the son of Teresa Cabeza de Vaca y de Zurita.
He was important because he traveled the seas and land and became friends with the Native Americans on his great expedition. He published two books about his voyage once he returned to Spain.
biography for beginners World Explorers
Author: Laurie Lanzen Harris
Pleasant Ridge, MI; 2003
Publisher: Favorable Impressions
We Asked for Nothing
Author: Stuart Waldman
New York City, NY; 2003
Publisher: Mikaya Press Inc.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.