Wednesday, October 16, 2019

A Land So Strange: Epic American Journey

Grand Canyon-like coast near Morocco, Spain's Canary Islands, Africa, Timanfaya (
A Land So Strange: The Epic Journey of Cabeza de Vaca
This is the extraordinary TRUE story of a shipwrecked Spaniard (Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca) who walked across America in the 16th century

In 1527, a mission called the Narvaez Expedition set out from Spain, an imperial nation in Europe, to colonize Florida, a free land inhabited by Native Americans in what Europe called the "New World."

But the expedition went horribly wrong: It was delayed by a hurricane, knocked off course by a colossal error of navigation, and the mission quickly became a desperate journey for survival.

It started in Hispaniola, in St. Dominic (the "first city of the Americas"). Of the 300 men who had embarked in Spain, only four survived -- three Catholic Spaniards and an African slave from Spain's neighbor North Africa.

This tiny band endured a horrific march through Florida, a harrowing raft passage across the Louisiana coast, and years of enslavement in the American Southwest.

They journeyed for almost 10 years in search of the Pacific Ocean that would guide them home, seeing lands, peoples, plants, and animals no European had seen before.

In this enthralling tale of four castaways wandering in terra incognita, "unknown land," author Andrés Reséndez brings to life the vast and dynamic world of North America -- years before European settlers would transform it forever. More

Columbus begins Europe's imperial adventure
An Inglorious Columbus (John Vanderlyn)
Prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492, the Native American Taíno populated the island, which they called Quisqueya ("Mother of All Lands") and Ayiti (the "Land of the High Mountains").

Columbus later renamed it Hispaniola (La Española, "the Spanish land"), including the territory of today's Haiti. At the time, the island's territory consisted of five chiefdoms...ruled by Taino Indian chiefs (caciques). Dating from 1493, when the Spanish invaded and settled on the island, and officially from August 5, 1498, Santo Domingo became the oldest European city in the Americas.

Columbus' little brother and fellow rapist and slave driver Bartholomew founded the settlement and named it La Nueva Isabela ("The New Isabella"), after an earlier settlement named after Queen Isabella I of Spain. In 1495 it was renamed "Santo Domingo," in honor of Roman Catholic Saint Dominic.

The city came to be known as the "Gateway to the Caribbean" and the chief town in Hispaniola from then on. Expeditions which led to Ponce de León's colonization of Puerto Rico, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar's colonization of Hernando Cortes' conquest of Mexico (Tenochtitlan), and Vasco Núñez de Balboa's sighting of the Pacific Ocean were all launched from Santo Domingo. More

Post-invasion American identity issues
Texas-New Mexico, 1800-1850
"Hispanics" (European whites from Spain), Native Americans (people of color from the Americas), and Anglos (Europeans) made agonizing and crucial identity decisions in the Southwest region during the first half of the 19th century. The Mexican government [a legacy of Spanish invasion] sought to bring its [Native] frontier inhabitants into the national fold. They did so by relying on administrative and patronage linkages. But Mexico's northern frontier gravitated toward the expanding American economy. Author Andrés Reséndez explores how the diverse and fiercely independent peoples of Texas and New Mexico came to think of themselves. Were they members of one national community or another (Mexico or US) in the years leading up to the imperial Mexican-American War? More

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