The tribes to which Cabeza de Vaca was enslaved included the Hans and the Capoques, and tribes later called the Karankawa and Coahuiltecan. Only four men managed to escape: Cabeza de Vaca, Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, Alonso del Castillo Maldonado, and an African slave of Dorantes, Estevanico.
Captured by the Karankawa Natives, they lived in virtual bondage for nearly two years. Only after Cabeza de Vaca had won the respect of the Karankawa by becoming a skilled medicine man and diplomat did the small band win their freedom.
Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca 1560, Sevilla, Spain), Spanish explorer who spent eight years in the Gulf region of present-day Texas. By September all but his party of 60 had perished; it reached the shore near present-day Galveston, Texas.
Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (c. 1490-c. 1560) was born in Jeréz de la Frontera, Spain, to a noble family; his early career was in the military. In 1527, he was appointed second in command of an expedition headed up by Panfilo de Narváez, who wanted to claim the territory from Florida to Mexico for Spain.
Their journey went well until the two men confronted Matagorda Bay. There they encountered an Indian tribe, which Cabeza de Vaca called the Quevenes, who threatened to kill them by placing arrows over their hearts.
Cabeza de Vaca, Álvar Núñez He and three fellow survivors became the first Europeans to explore the American Southwest, eventually settling in Mexico (1536). His Comentarios (1555) recount hardships endured in South America, where he served as governor (1542–45) of the province of Río de la Plata.
Alvar Nunez’s last name Cabeza de Vaca (which means “the head of a cow”) was taken from his mother Dona Teresa Cabeza de Vaca’s side of the family. His mother bestowed the Cabeza de Vaca name on her fourth son to evoke the prestige of her noble lineage.
The expedition team of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado is credited with the discovery of the Grand Canyon and several other famous landmarks in the American Southwest while searching for the legendary Seven Golden Cities of Cíbola — which they never found.
What is now known as the Texas Gulf Coast was home to many American Indian tribes including the Atakapa, Karankawa, Mariame, and Akokisa. They were semi-nomadic, living on the shore for part of the year and moving up to 30 or 40 miles inland seasonally.