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La Relacion by Cabeza de Vaca pgs. 74-78

Background information – de Vaca finds himself at the mercy of the Native

Americans that other explorers had found and massacred prior to his arrival; the book’s account shows the landing of de Vaca’s barge on Galveston Island and the encounter with the Karankawa Indians

A Sinking and a Landing

- credits God’s mercy for their survival (pg. 74)

- the men’s mental, physical, and emotional health are deteriorating (pg. 74)

- de Vaca at one point would have rather died than seen the men around him so poor in health (pg. 74)

- saw and landed on Galveston Island on November 6

- regained their mental, physical, and emotional health with food and fresh water (pg. 76)

- tone in lines 4 – 9: the author relates frightening details in a calm, objective tone. De Vaca may have chosen this tone to present himself as calm, clear-thinking leader to his audience.
What Befell Oviedo with the Indians (pg. 76)

  • De Vaca assumed “Christians” were around because of cattle tracks – Historically, “Christians” was used as a synonym for Europeans.

  • Oviedo was sent to scout and returned with intell that the land was an island (Galveston Island), and he had stolen goods from a tribe that were gone from their huts

  • The Indians followed/lead Oviedo with bows and arrows drawn

  • De Vaca and the men were outnumbered and out sized – very frightening

  • The Indians and de Vaca’s men made peace

  • The Indians were to bring food the following day

The Indians’ Hospitality Before and After a New Calamity

  • Indians brought food as promised (pg. 76)

  • Indians seemed curious about the Spaniards – gawking at them (pg. 76)

  • De Vaca’s men tried to leave Galveston Island but the waves overtook the barge drowning 3 men and destroying all of the supplies, goods of the men (pg. 77)

  • Indians came back and were shocked at the state of the men – emaciated, exhausted, sad (pg. 77)

  • Lines 68-71 – the author’s response to his current situation tells the reader that he won’t eat horse meat – savage? He would rather starve than eat a horse.

  • De Vaca explains what happened and the Indians mourn the loss of the men (pg. 77)

  • De Vaca’s men eventually wiped out the Indians with disease – the Indians thought of killing all of the Spaniard survivors but were dissuaded (pg. 78)


How We Became Medicine Men (pg. 78)

  • to save themselves and be fed, de Vaca’s men acted as medicine men even though they knew no medicine

  • the Indians did as they were told but did so in fear

  • de Vaca’s men gave “medical” attention to the sick Indians but also called on God through prayer to aide in the healing

  • Historically, no one had good knowledge of what caused disease – de Vaca’s men as well as the Indians were guessing, but both believed that a power beyond themselves had a part of healing.


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