U.S History- B6
How did Cabeza de Vaca Survive?
On 1527, 600 settlers sailed to the Americas to set up provinces on the Northern shores of Mexico. The expedition was led by the Spanish conquistador Cabeza de Vaca. There was much hope in residing in this fruitful land but the trip did not go as arranged the expedition suffered greatly and all but 3 men and Cabeza survived.In the wake of living among the local Native Americans for a 6 years, and 2 years as a slave Cabeza de Vaca and the three survivors traveled west and afterward south to Mexico City, wanting to restore contact with their compatriots. When examining the journey of Cabeza de Vaca there are different arguments on how he survived. Native Americans had land that was organized into dozens of groups, spoke more than half a dozen different languages, had diverse belief systems, and lived in homelands with distinctive food resources than Europe. Cabeza de Vaca survived by having emitible wilderness skills, having the ability to heal Native Americans and a mutual respect for Native Americans.
Cabeza de Vaca consistently proved his amazing wilderness skills, he survived throw harsh and foreign landscapes and a shipwreck that of 600 settlers only 4 survived. Cabeza had a keen ability in finding fresh water and food(DOCB) He faced the problem of thirst in the rafts but with ingenuity he ” hollowed-out horse-leg containers” and drank from them. In another occasion when he was a slave and had little available to him Cabeza resourcefully found and ate “berries, mollusks, rats, roots, lizards, snakes, and spiders.” and he also willingly ate it.(DOCB) Cabeza when faces with cold conditions was able to successfully keep himself warm. He did this by digging a hole and surrounding it by with fire.(DOCB) Cabeza was also quick to learn languages knowing 5.(DOCB) Learning the same language was crucial to communicate with Native Americans, in turn it helped him avoid unpleasant situations, get directions, find food and water and make relations. Cabezas wilderness skills helped him survive the rough 8 year journey. He was despicably able to survive through harsh weather, deal with periodic hunger, deal with thirst communicate with and befriend the Native Americans.
Cabeza’s healing ability was reputable and it gave him a safe passage across the Americas. Native Americans were not familiar with what may be surgery and the precedent event described in DOC C was something like a miracle to them. It was respectable and admirable. Cabeza took a knife to cut out a arrow point that was lodged in a Native Americans chest. The man survived and Cabeza gained a reputation. Afterwards Native Americans began to escort Cabeza in his journey. He wrote on this ” And this cure gave us a very great reputation among them throughout the whole land”(DOC C) The ability to heal helped Cabeza survive in light of the fact that they were viewed as divine beings. They were given sustenance and aided on their route. Without the ability to heal, Cabeza would not have been protected. The healing in turn also gave him confidence which gave him strength to survive.
Cabeza’s positive relation with Native Americans helped him along his journey and when confronting Spanish conquistadors in the gulf of california. Cabeza arrived in the Americas with the impression that the Native Americans were uncivilized but through his journey, he gains a different point of view and is able to see Native Americans as human beings. In document D he expresses his dismay over the events which show how he sees their humanity.”we suffered many annoyances and great disputes with (the Spaniards), because they wanted to enslave the Indians we brought with us” The spanish conquistadors try to undermine Cabeza by saying that they have no worth but the Native Americans do not believe them. This shows the mutual relationship Cabeza and the Natives have.This relationship was key to Cabeza’s survival their relationship was mutual, so they helped each other.
Cabeza was a enterprising man who struggled with a failed expedition to the Americas which killed all but 3 men of 600. He went through a 8 year journey from Galveston island to Mexico City with at least 2,500 miles. He dealt with hunger,thirst,harsh weather conditions, and dissimilarities in language and culture. But he survived and prospered in this land with wilderness skills, the ability of healing Native Americans and a mutual respect for Native Americans. Cabeza de Vaca’s story perfectly delineates many changes that happened between the times the European men originally touched base in the New World and when they exited. A standout amongst the most critical changes in the manner by which the men saw the Native Americans that lived in the Americas. They were exposed to land that they were going to exploit and learned to understand it, care for it.