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Estevanico: Explorer

Estevanico (pronounced es-tay-vahn-EE-co), also called Estevan, Esteban, Estebanico, Black Stephen, and Stephen the Moor (1500?-1539) was a Muslim slave from northern Africa (Azamor, Morocco) who was one of the early explorers of the Southwestern United States.


Estevanico was the slave of Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, who took him on the Narváez expedition to Tampa Bay, Florida, in 1528. A series of hurricanes and fights with Native Americans killed many of the crew, and the pilot of the ship sailed to Mexico abandoning the men. The 250 to 300 stranded men hastily made 5 makeshift rafts on which they sailed west, hoping to reach a Spanish settlement in Mexico. Three rafts sank, but the two surviving rafts (carrying 80 men) landed at Galveston Island (off what is now Texas). Narvaez did not survive.

After a very cold winter with very little food, only 15 men survived. In spring, the men traveled west by land, walking along the Rio Grande. By 1533, there were only four survivors, including Estevanico, Carranza, Cabeza de Vaca, and Alonso Castillo Maldonado. The men were enslaved by some Indian tribes along the way, and were helped by other tribes. They were the first non-natives to travel in this area of the southwestern North America.

The four men finally reached the Spanish settlement of Culiacan in early 1536 (8 years after being stranded in Florida). Later that year they reached Mexico City, where they were welcomed by the Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza.

Carranza then sold Estevanico to the Viceroy. The Viceroy sent Estevanico on an expedition in 1539 with the Franciscan Fray Marcos de Niza. Francisco de Coronado outfitted Estevanico for this trip to find the fabled seven cities of Cibola. On this trip, Estevanico was killed by Zuni Indians as he entered their pueblo (supposedly at the fabled city of Cíbola).

Related Pages:


Estevanico
A Printable Worksheet

A printable worksheet on the explorer/slave Estevanico (also called Esteban, Steven the Moor, and Black Steven). The printout has information on Estevanico's life, questions about him, and a map to color. Answers: 1. Morocco, 2. Native Americans, 3. Zuni.

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Guidelines for Writing a Report on an Explorer


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