The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925 Page: 68
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
to me after I had been informed about him, and learned that he
deserves credit both for his experiences, and because all that he
has said has been accepted as a certainty." I shall tell briefly
in this chapter all that is important [in the published relation]
lest much that in future may be useful, which at present is con-
venient to history, may, after so many hardships, he disregarded
or forgotten. To an extent, I hold the relation made by the
three to be better and more clear than this personal one,3 but
find that what Cabeza de Vaca adds is necessary, since not all
could be told by men who had endured so many hardships, and
who knew not where they had been-which is not to be marveled
at since their pilot, Mirueo, could not guide them to harbor, nor
'His published statements could then have been read in the light of
knowledge acquired by De Soto's men and Coronado's ;and Cabeza de
Vaca himself had returned in disgrace from the government of the Rio
de La Plata Provinces; so Oviedo was in position to write understand-
ingly of his reputation for veracity.
O0viedo was undoubtedly justified in his opinion that the report to
the Audiencia is "more clear" than the "personal one" of Cabeza de
Vaca, but as to its being "better" much depends on the point of view.
Naufrdgios is usually more detailed, particularly with regard to the
names, habits and customs of Indian tribes encountered; and concerning
the work of the castaways as "healers," which was the key to the suc-
cess of their final journey. Moreover, many topographical and other es-
sential details are mentioned only in Naufrdgios; and in two instances,
the crossing of the second river by Narvaez' army in Florida (identified
as the Suwannee) and, the crossing of a big "river coming from the
north" and a "very big river, with the water reaching to our chests,"-
evidently Rio Sabinas and the Rio Grande where it flows from west to
east,-mentioned only in Naufrdgios; Oviedo's omissions would be very
confusing if not supplied from the other narrative.
On the other hand, Cabeza de Vaca seems to have been lacking in
sense of direction, and seldom mentions the points of the compass, and
there is nothing in Naufrdgios at all equivalent to the narrative of
Andres Dorantes, as supplied by Oviedo, which describes the forward
journey of the Mal-Hado castaways along the Texas coast, toward P&nuco
in the spring of 1529; nor the subsequent vicissitudes of the survivors
of this ill-fated march, pending their reunion with Cabeza de Vaca five
and a half years later; which is the key to all understanding of the
adventures of these earliest European visitors on the shores of Texas.
The experiences of Narvdez' men in the region of their landing place in
Florida, and on their final journey up the Rio Grande, and across to
and through the Opata settlements in Sonora, are also depicted more
clearly by Oviedo than by Naufrdgios.
Speaking generally, Oviedo is more satisfactory as to directions, dis-
tances, itinerary and the general outline of the various stages of their
journeys; while with the exception of the earlier happenings along the
Texas coast, Naufrdgios is by far the more complete, and details many
facts essential to a complete story of the Narvaez expedition which are
not even mentioned by Oviedo.
The two narratives complement each other, and neither can be prop-
erly studied or understood without the other.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925, periodical, 1925; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101087/m1/72/: accessed May 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.