Wednesday, February 16, 2011
The Cabeza de Vaca Expedition
Cabeza de Vaca came to the New World in 1527. He was second in command of an unsuccessful expedition that tried to conquer Florida. Abandoned by the ships that had brought them to America, the Spanish attempted to sail to Mexico in makeshift rafts. Instead, they landed in present-day Texas, where the surviviors were taken prisoner by Native Americans. From their captors they heard about the seven cities of Cibola – the cities made of gold.
In 1534, after several years of captivity, Cabeza de Vaca, an African named Estevanico, and two other Spaniards escaped. In an incredible two year journey, they wandered on foot through present-day Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. They did not find the golden cities. But eventually they made their way to Mexico. Cabeza de Vaca’s reports inspired several expeditions in search of Cibola. But the fabled cities turned out to be zuni pueblos. Built of mud, they shone somewhat like gold in the bright sunlight.
Later, in 1539, Estevanico guided an expedition in search of Cibola, but he was killed by Native Americans.