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5.8 Southcentral Tribes

Cabeza de Vaca and a black slave, Estevanico, the only survivors of the Narvaez party, lived 6 years with the Karankawa and the Atakapa Indians of the Texas coast. They were treated as healers and holy men. They walked across Texas and finally met the Yaqui Indians who guided them south through the Sonora desert to Mexico where they arrived in 1536. De Vaca, the king’s accountant on the Narvaez expedition, invented sighting of cities of gold. This led to the Coronado expedition into New Mexico 3 years later looking for the “seven cities of gold of Cibola”. Of course they never met them.

In 1539 Coronado sent Estevanico, the survivor of the Narvaez expedition, in reconnaissance, but the Zuni killed him because they decided that he was not a true medicine man and that, moreover, he carried a rattle from an enemy nation.. A Franciscan friar who was following Estevanico returned to Mexico saying that in the Zuni pueblos had wealth greater than the Aztecs or Incas. Coronado immediately planned an expedition  in Arizona and New Mexico.

In 1541-42 De Soto invaded the Natchez nation – a part of the Mississippian culture- and reached the Mississippi River. But in 1542 De Soto became ill and died and the Natchez were spared his usual excess. He was succeeded by Luis de Moscoso who went up to Texas before returning to the Gulf of Mexico. His mission was a failure.

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