For perspective, the year that Esteban arrived in the Zuni village of Hawikku as the first non-Indian to enter New Mexico, here is a list of some notable events in the rest of the world also occurring in that year of 1539:
1539 ELSEWHERE IN THE WORLD
An absurd movie was released in Mexico in 1990 titled "Cabeza de Vaca." A relatively unknown actor, Gerardo Villarreal, played the part of Estevanico (Esteban). The movie hero-worships Cabeza de Vaca, and the movie doesn't even try to follow the historical record, although it's supposedly based on Cabea de Vaca's chronicle of 1542 and is advertised as "true and amazing adventures." The movie is built primarily on dramatic accounts of events that never occurred.
There's an exhibit in Washington, D.C. about Esteban (Estevanico). He is featured in a historical section about Muslims in America in the 1500s. The exhibit is in America's Islamic Heritage Museum & Cultural Center, and credits Esteban as being the first known Muslim to arrive in what is now the United States. The center opened in 2011.
The Wolofs, kidnapped from their home in West Africa, led the first African slave revolt against Spanish rule in the Caribbean. Sources seem fairly evenly divided between 1521 and 1522 for the start of the revolt. I went with the more conservative estimate of 1522 in the book on page 31. In either case, it would have been only a few years before Esteban arrived on Hispaniola, so as a slave himself he was bound to hear about the island's slave unrest.
Among many unanswerable questions about the Narváez expedition is an uncertainty about whether the ship the conquistador purchased on Hispaniola was a caravel.
In his account, Cabeza de Vaca mentions that Narváez purchased an additional “ship” at the Santo Domingo port. The assumption is that it was a caravel, because that was a principal vessel in those days and would have matched the other Narváez vessels.
Esteban, Cabeza de Vaca, Dorantes, and Castillo escaped from the Karankawa Indians after about five years and made their way across the continent and to Mexico City. But there was another Spaniard, Lope de Oviedo, who was left behind on Malhado Island -- either because the others assumed he must be dead or considered it too dangerous to return to Malhado and take him with them.
The map linked to on this blog entry is the first one that shows all the Americas as being one continent and not connected to any other landmass. From page 23 in the biography, this map was published about eleven years after Esteban left Mexico City to find the rumored rich Indian cities to the north, occupied by what are now known as the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico.