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By Maurice Winternitz

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1528 Karankawan Indians come to the rescue of shipwrecked Spaniard Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. Intent on colonizing Florida for Spain, an expedition of 600 led by Pánfilo de Narváez sails to the Gulf of Mexico. When the Spaniards go ashore and leave the coast to explore inland areas, their ships are destroyed in a storm, leaving the expedition stranded. As disease and Timucua Indian attacks begin to decimate their ranks, they craft their own rafts and attempt to sail them to Cuba, but a second storm nearly wipes them out.

So soon as it was up, we altogether kneeled down before them, with our hands toward Heaven, yielding God thanks: and we made signs unto [the Indians], showing them the Heavens. . [T]heir Captain clad with an old Bear’s skin . . came unto us. . [T]here he made . . ” Indians of seven cities full of fabulous riches located north of Mexico. The rumors will help convince New Spain to send the Coronado expedition (see entry for 1540) to find and conquer the fabled cities, which become known as the Seven Cities of Cibola.

The encounters are generally friendly, with the exception of a meeting in present-day Maine with Indians who are openly hostile to Verrazano and his men, possibly because they have been attacked by previous European visitors to their shores. 1528 Karankawan Indians come to the rescue of shipwrecked Spaniard Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca. Intent on colonizing Florida for Spain, an expedition of 600 led by Pánfilo de Narváez sails to the Gulf of Mexico. When the Spaniards go ashore and leave the coast to explore inland areas, their ships are destroyed in a storm, leaving the expedition stranded.

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A History of Indian Literature. Vol. I. by Maurice Winternitz


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