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 SEVEN
What the Land Is Like

From the place where we landed to this village and land of Apalachee, the country is mostly flat, the soil sandy and firm. 1 Throughout it there are many large trees and open woodlands in which there are walnut trees and laurels and others called sweet-gums, cedars, junipers, 2 live oaks, pines, oaks and low-growing palmettos like those in Castile. Throughout it there are many large and small lakes, some of them very difficult to cross, partly because they are so deep and partly because there are so many fallen trees in them. They have sandy bottoms, and the ones we found in Apalachee are much larger than any we had encountered on the way. There are many corn fields in this province, and the houses are as spread out through the countryside as those of the Gelves. 3

The animals that we saw in those lands were three kinds of deer, rabbits and hares, bears and lions 4 and other wild animals, among which we saw one which carries its young in a pouch on its belly. 5 While they are small they carry them in that manner until they can get their own food. If they happen to be out of the pouch searching for food when people approach, the mother does not flee until she has gathered them all in her pouch. The country there is very cold 6 and has good pastures for livestock. There are many kinds of birds: very many geese, ducks, large ducks, royal ducks, ibises, egrets and herons and quail. We saw many falcons, marsh hawks, sparrow hawks, goshawks and many other birds. 7

Two hours 8 after we arrived in Apalachee, the Indians that had fled from there returned peacefully to us, asking us for their women and children. And we returned them, except that the Governor held one of their chiefs, which angered them. The following day they came back ready for battle and attacked us so boldly and swiftly that they were able to set fire to the lodges we were in. But as we sallied they fled and took refuge in some lakes very close by. For this reason and because of the large corn fields there, we could do little harm to them, except for one that we killed.

The following day Indians from a village on the other side came and

-42-

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