In the spring of 1536, European knights surveyed the plain between the Sierra Madre and the Pacific Ocean, northwest of present-day Mexico. They see a group of Indians from afar « barefoot and covered with skin », Like those who track it. But instead of running away, they mean them and someone talks to them in perfect Spanish. “His hair hung down to his waist and his beard covered his chest. Her tanned skin was peeling off.” Accompanied by a black man. For historian Andrés Resendes, this meeting represented a turning point: the moment when the relationship between white settlers and the indigenous population could have changed, from predation to cooperation.
On the one hand, the Indian hunters, on the other hand, were the survivors of an expedition that began almost ten years ago to colonize Florida. Of the approximately 300 men who left the Gulf of Mexico, only four survived: three Spaniards – Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and two other nobles, as well as Estebanico, the African slave of one of them. They owe much of their survival to the Indians, who came to consider them human. “Leur voyage incarne par conséquent une bifurcation sur la route de l’exploration et de la conquête, un chemin qui, s’il avait été emprunté, aurait pu transformer la brutale price de la terre et des richesses de l’Amérique par Europeans », Andres Resendes writes [Andrés Reséndez, Un si étrange pays. Le voyage extraordinaire de Cabeza de Vaca dans l’Amérique indienne. éd. Anacharsis].
This was not the case, as we know, and the report by the Three Spaniards, as well as the report by Cabeza de Vaca, were overshadowed by accounts of the victory of the conquests of Cortes and Pizarro. History favors the victors, and the Florida Mission is a succession of disasters. Originally, frustration
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