Álvar Núñez Cabeza De Vaca’s epic tales in Adventures in the Unknown Interior ofAmerica is one of the earliest recorded stories of exploration of the Americas. His story begins on April 14, 1528 and continues in great detail for eight long years. His narrative includes his personal experience as well as descriptions of the land he traveled and the native americans that he encountered.
The detailed events that are present throughout Cabeza De Vaca’s adventure transform him into a man completely different than the one we were introduced to at the beginning of the exploration. The superior mindset that Cabeza De Vaca felt over the natives, the challenges that would threaten his faith and religion, and the view he had of his fellow christians would change him tremendously as an individual.
The expedition, led by Governor Narváez, began with a 600 men crew in Florida. On their journey, they faced many challenges. The men encountered storms, were attacked several times by native american tribes, endured slavery and captivity, suffered starvation and dehydration, as well as several other down falls that eventually contributed to the death of hundreds of the Spanish crew.
By the end of the eight years, Cabeza De Vaca was one of only four men who survived the cruel journey. The ability to adapt to their surroundings helped those four men change their views from powerless to acceptance and ultimately resulted in their return to Spain.
Cabeza De Vaca was accustomed to a life of higher society before the departure to America. He was born into a wealthy family which contributed to a feeling of superiority over others. This mind set traveled with him as he encountered many Native American tribes during the expedition. Cabeza De Vaca thought of the native americans as barbaric creatures and feared for his life at the thought of an attack from them. “They loomed big and naked and from a distance looked like giants.
They were handsomely proportioned, lean, agile, and strong.” (CH8) He goes on to mention the intimidation of their weapons, “Their bows were as thick as an arm”. (CH8) Attacks were happening frequently, and after realizing that the circumstances were not promising, the Spaniards began to try a different approach.
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