Lest We Forget - African American Military History by Researcher, 
					Author and Veteran Bennie McRae, Jr.

MEXICO CITY - SPRING, 1537

MEXICO CITY - SPRING, 1537

The Story of Estevanico

 

With his partially written "Relacion", de Vaca sailed for Spain in the spring of 1537, arriving in Lisbon on August 10th.

 

Dorantes was in Vera Cruz also waiting to sail when he was sumnoned to Mexico City. Mendoza asked him to lead the northern exploring expedition. He was reluctant to go but agreed, possibly because he was a good military man. Mendoza then began assembling soldiers, slaves, and supplies.

In the meantime, another arrangement had been completed. Castillo had fallen in love with a wealthy widow and Mendoza had rewarded him with income from the Indian lands of Tehuacan. It must have been a love match. They lived quietly in Mexico City and raised eleven daughters.

At some later point, Dorantes awoke and said, "No, I won't go." Mendoza was unhappy but his anger soon subsided. Afterwards, he helped arrange the marriage of Dorantes to another wealthy widow, Maria de la Torre. They also had eleven children. Dorantes lived for many years and served as a military officer in the conquest of Jalisco.

There remained then only Estevanico who had been in the north country. The Viceroy fully appreciated his value. He was both the answer and a problem. Estevanico was fully qualified to lead an expedition. He was intelligent. He had been an apt pupil of Cabeza de Vaca. He knew and was friendly with all the Indians and could speak their languages. He could be diplomatic and cunning.

But he could not be the leader. Born a Moor, a Negro, a slave, and non-Christian there was no way for him to be the commander of the exploring party.

At this opportune time, Friar Marcos de Niza appeared in the city, and the Viceroy had found his solution. Friars were full of missionary zeal and didn't have to be paid. They didn't carry guns but a hope of peace and tranquility. Marcos de Niza met all the requirements. He had spent years with wilderness Indians, had presented their protests of injustices to Bishop Zummarraga, was highly recommended by the Bishop and was skillful in geography and seamanship.

 

Mendoza immediately rushed off a brief proposal to Charles V for sending Estevanico and Friar Marcos de Niza on a scouting expedition beyond the known territories to the north.

 


NEXT: EXPEDITION TO THE NORTH - SUMMER, 1538


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