The African Slave Who Explored America
When Pueblo Indians say, "The first white man our people saw was a black man," they are referring to Esteban, who came to New Mexico in 1539. After centuries of negative portrayals, this book highlights Esteban's importance in America's early history.
Books about the history of the American West have ignored Esteban or belittled his importance, often using his slave nickname, Estebanico. What little we know about Esteban comes from Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and other Spanish chroniclers, whose condescension toward the African slave has carried over into most history books. In this work Herrick dispels the myths and outright lies about Esteban. His biography emphasizes Esteban rather than the Spaniards whose exploits are often exaggerated and jingoistic in the sixteenth-century chronicles. He gives Esteban full credit for his courage and his skill as a linguist and cultural intermediary who was trusted and respected by Indians from many tribes across the continent.
A fascinating biography of one of history's most extraordinary and underappreciated explorers. . . . This book will certainly prove to be a much more accurate source for those who study Esteban than previous works on his life and the significance of his travels.'--Andrew Husa, Historical Geography
Herrick successfully illustrates the complexity of Esteban during the years of Spanish conquest and his role in reaching the region presently known as the American Southwest.'--Albert S. Broussard, New Mexico Historical Review
Coalesces a great deal of information and offers interesting insights.'--Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Herrick's book . . . uses every type of source, from Spanish records to French recollections and the recollections and opinions of modern-day Pueblo historians and African American opinion leaders, to help reconstruct the world of Esteban and his connection with the Cabeza de Vaca expedition and others in the New World.'--Wagon Tracks
Drawn from a broad spectrum of secondary sources, Dennis Herrick's Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America takes a new approach to understanding the importance of Esteban. . . . Clearly he was a hero and not a villain.'--True West
Offers a fresh perspective on one of the most elusive men in early American history. . . . Herrick argues persuasively that the odyssey of Cabeza de Vaca was also the odyssey of Esteban.'--Roundup
A highly readable book by a writer who has spent a lifetime writing clear, enjoyable prose. . . . Herrick's ability to sweep the reader along while still managing to question every old detail simply makes Esteban all the more welcome.'--The Journal of Arizona History
A well-crafted and thorough synthesis of the existing documentary evidence and the most recent scholarly speculations regarding the life of the black African Moor who played a pivotal role in the earliest Spanish reconnaissance of what is now the southern United States and northwest Mexico.'--Richard Flint, author of No Settlement, No Conquest: A History of the Coronado Entrada
Notes for the Modern Reader
Chapter One. A Man of Mysteries
Chapter Two. The Morocco Connection
Chapter Three. Terrorism in the Caribbean
Chapter Four. Esteban Arrives at Hispaniola
Chapter Five. Early Indian Resistance
Chapter Six. A Disastrous Beginning
Chapter Seven. Invasion of Florida
Chapter Eight. The Quest for Gold
Chapter Nine. Arrows Penetrating "Good Armor"
Chapter Ten. Fleeing in Rickety Boats
Chapter Eleven. Spaniards Forced into Slavery
Chapter Twelve. Faith Healing and Proselytizing
Chapter Thirteen. Esteban's Rise and Fall
Chapter Fourteen. Return to Slavery, but an Indispensable Man
Chapter Fifteen. An African in Arizona and New Mexico
Chapter Sixteen. A Mysterious Fate
Chapter Seventeen. Death? Or Freedom?
Chapter Eighteen. The Durability of Myth
Chapter Nineteen. Inhumane Bondage and Historical Context
Chapter Twenty. What Isn't Known about Esteban
Appendix. An American Sculptor's Tribute
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