Author: Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca


The Healers; an excerpt from La Relación by Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (1542)

In this excerpt from La Relación, published in 1542, the Spaniard Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca relates how he and several others escaped their enslavement by an American Indian tribe on the upper Gulf Coast of present-day United States. As they come upon another town of Indians, the Spaniards are taken as faith healers and welcomed. Cabeza de Vaca and his compatriots—Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, Alonso del Castillo Maldonado, and an enslaved Moroccan Berber named Esteban—were the only survivors of an expedition launched by Pánfilo de Narváez in 1528. They journeyed from present-day Florida and through the American Southeast, finally arriving in Mexico City in 1536.