Sunday, April 2, 2023

Cabeza de Vaca, first indigenous of the United States, ethnographer, naturalist and explorer (I)

He went as a conqueror and became a prisoner and slave of the Indians. He was a peddler, a medicine man, and a great shaman of the tribes of the American West, revered as a man sent from heaven. He was the first naturalist, ethnographer and indigenous of the New World. He crossed on foot from Florida to the Pacific with only three other survivors. He moved west and lived with the Comanches, Sioux, Apaches, and Pueblos. He also became the first white man to see, hunt and eat buffalo. His restless look knew how to sense those people and became one of their great protectors. After returning to Spain, he again returned to America and discovered the spectacular Iguazu Falls. Your book, shipwreckto which i will add later notesHis incredible epic narrating makes him one of the most important sources for knowing what people were like and lived in the southern United States, which was part of the Hispanic Empire, and the people who discovered it. What were they made of? , emerging among this unique and extraordinary figure

One of the biggest differences between Cabeza de Vaca and the rest of the heroes of the discovery and conquest of the New World is their perception of indigenous territory. Despite, or perhaps because of, his personal and atrocious exploits, he was his prisoner, his slave, he was subjected to cruelty and abuse and was on the verge of suffering, on more than one occasion, death at his hands and he himself The freed and great leadership among them ascended the quota, advanced to a semi-sacred status of healer, sent man and great shaman of the tribes that populated the south of the present-day United States and north and central Mexico. He could react to them with extreme and general hatred, but his ability to see and understand was stronger. But his vision is not like the indigenous utopia of the good wild, far from the reality and the harsh truth of the human being. He does not save details to show what in his opinion are deviations, evils and atrocities in their actions and customs, but neither does he hide his admiration and respect for them, even the difference between tribes do and of course, with the specifics of saying it, as humanly not it could be otherwise, depending on how it went Funfair between each of them.

own thinking

All this, of course, from his own view marked by the values ​​of the time (let us not enter into the absurd folly which is now in vogue to judge his precepts on the basis of them) and the personal and personal values ​​of reason and virtue of those of the absolute faith that forced him and the Castilians, including the conquest, and of Christianity in the first place as indisputable in the eyes of the divine (the most repeated word in the vessels is “God”, because time is defined as that omnipresent and cannot be understood without the constant) presence in humanitarian works) and his service to the crown of Spain.

He collects in his writings the appalling treatment of his captives and especially some of the first tribes that took him captive, but he does not stop to observe their virtues. If he calls them thieves, traitors, drunkards… and is horrified by their inhuman cruelty, his ability to observe exceeds him and he inquires about their customs and attitude towards his family and, Thus, confirming something that he repeats on many occasions, that he has never seen anyone who wants to do so much for his children and for children in general. It goes even further, trying to find out their rules of social behavior and their relationships within and with other clans, as well as intercourse, marriage, and even divorce. Your book shipwreck It should be a source of study for the analysis of those primitive societies.

Fountain Of The Monument To Alvar Núñez Cabeza De Vaca In Jerez De La Frontera.Fountain of the Monument to Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in Jerez de la Frontera. That curiosity, and doubtless necessity too, led him very quickly to the achievement of learning sign language, which was common to almost everyone, and ended up speaking, as he himself writes, in six of his languages, and others In understanding ,

Warrior as he was, he never ceased to admire the courage and bravery of his opponents and he testifies to this from the beginning of his adventure through the swamps of Florida infested by Seminole warriors. «They are all Fleicheros and since they are so large in body and walk naked, from a distance they seem giants. They are people of wonderful good nature, very slender and of great strength and lightness. The bow they use is as thick as a hand, 11 to 12 spans long, which they shoot at two hundred paces with such care that they miss nothing.

He also expresses his admiration for another tribe, which later studies have identified as the Sioux, whom he first met on the coast, who were already west of the Mississippi, and whom he later reunited with. Found from and referred to their buffalo hunting (cow). Humpbacked) Her dignity and poise. He values ​​them to a great extent, because already surely shipwrecked, unarmed and naked, the Lakota helped, sheltered and fed them when they massacred them without any possible defense on their part. Could have done Furthermore, it may also be attested of them, though the names given to them and other tribes not agreeing with the present denominations, to have lived on the banks of the Rio Grande for nearly a whole year, together with the Comanches. His subsequent migration with the Apache tribes.

military conclusion

From his experience with all of them, he does not hesitate to draw a military conclusion: “These are the most prepared people for arms (bows) of all that I have seen in the world.” Admire their ability to sail, ambush, camouflage and stamina. He understands that, in front of him, slow arched buses can do nothing and he comes to a definite and not erroneous conclusion: it is possible to defeat them only with horses. “The horses are the only ones they have to subdue and which the Indians are universally afraid of.” At the time, only the Spanish had them, but it would not take long for the Sioux and Comanches to do the same. After the expedition and death of Hernando de Soto on the banks of the Mississippi, in which Álvare did not want to accompany him on his return to Spain, the mare escaped and the horse was released uncut by the great rider, who horrified the royal guard Atahualpa’s in the Baños del Inca near Cajamarca. Soto’s stallion is the mythical father of all maestenos.

But Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca values, above all, the tribesmen, pointing out and defending the Indians. His encounter with them greatly pleased them, their homes, their crops, irrigated fields and cities, for they had, although they did not reach the grandeur of the Mexica, Maya or Tlaxaltecas, but above all, their nature, customs- For customs, respect for women, “the most sincere treatment we had seen in any part of the Indies”, organization and pacifism. They transfer to him and he appreciates them very much. He writes with full confidence that, if he treated them with kindness and affection and not with harshness and oppression, “there would be no better Christians or better subjects of His Majesty in the world.” In fact, in that hope he already looks with determination to other Christians whom he already knows are close. But it would be in this meeting when he would have to make decisions that would confront him when he came face to face with Nuno Beltrán de Guzmán’s captains, who only sought to enslave him. It was there that Cabeza de Vaca, the defender of the indigenous people, fully emerged. and not only there, but already as a mark of his action, as he later demonstrated on his second voyage to the Americas, in which he discovered the Iguazu Falls and his defense of the Guarani earned him the position of adelantado and killed De La’s governorship had to pay the price. Plata.

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