The Account: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca's Relación

By Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca; Martin A. Favata et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE
How They Stole from One Another

After having informed them and told them clearly what they should do, they returned and left us with those Indians, who, keeping in mind what the others had said, began to treat us with the same fear and reverence as the others. They took us on a three-day journey to a place where there were many people. Before we arrived, they sent word saying that we were coming, repeating everything about us that the other Indians had told them and adding much more, because all these Indians are great storytellers and big liars, especially when they think it is to their advantage. When we approached the dwellings, all the people came out to greet us with considerable pleasure and festivity. Two of their medicine men gave us, among other things, two gourds. 1 From here on we began to carry the gourds with us, and added to our authority with this bit of ceremony, which is very important to them. Those who had accompanied us looted their lodges, but since there were many people in that village and there were only a few of them, they could not carry all that they took and had to leave more than half.

From here we began penetrating the land for more than fifty leagues along the slope of the mountains. 2 At the end our journey we found forty dwellings. 3 Among the things the people there gave us was a thick rattle, large and made of copper, with a face on it. They let us know that they regarded it highly, and told us that they had gotten it from others who were their neighbors. When we asked them where the neighbors had gotten it, they said that they had brought it from the North, 4 where there was much wealth, and it was greatly valued. We realized that wherever the object had come from there was smelting and metal casting.

With this we departed the following day and crossed a mountain range seven leagues in length, 5 where the rocks were iron slags. At nightfall we reached a large number of dwellings on the bank of a beautiful river. 6 The inhabitants came out to welcome us carrying their children. They gave us many small bags of mica and powdered antimony. They rub this on their faces. 7 They also gave us many beads and many buffalo-skin blankets and

-96-

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