Problems with Esteban's Wikipedia page


I did not post the Wikipedia page listed for "Mustafa Azemmouri." The page was originally titled "Estevanico." It was posted by someone else who keeps rejecting and writing over any attempts to correct the page. Estevanico was the slave nickname for Esteban (full Spanish name of Esteban de Dorantes). The nickname was condescendingly used to demean him, and it is the nickname usually used in books mentioning Esteban.
     Oddly, the Wikipedia page refers to Esteban as Mustafa Azemmouri. That's an apparent nod to the practice of Arab scholars in recent years to refer to Esteban by a variation of what ended up on the Wikipedia page. (His actual original name is not known, but usually Arab scholars refer to him as Mustafa [or Mustapha] El Azemmour.) The name used on Wikipedia is a corruption of that particular Arab name. In addition, use of Azemmouri as a last name throughout the Wikipedia article is jarringly out of sync with most English readers who know the man as Esteban or by his slave nickname of Estevanico.

     Even Spaniards knew him as Esteban or Estevanico during his entire time in the Americas, so the Wikipedia page's use of Azemmouri as his "last name" throughout the Wikipedia entry is very strange. The person controlling the Wikipedia page uses Azemmouri as a last name, although even Arab sources use Mustapha or Mustafa—or even Esteban—for a second reference, not Azemmouri. (Azemmour is the Moroccan city from which he was taken to be sold as a slave on the Iberian Peninsula.)
     Although generally accurate and well done, the page erroneously implied originally that "all but four" of the 80 survivors of the trip across the Gulf of Mexico died in captivity after their crudely made boats washed ashore in November 1528 on the Texas coast south of Galvesto
      Not true. The 80 or so Narváez survivors consolidated on the Velasco Peninsula (at that time an island), planning and some even trying to reach the nearest Spanish settlement hundreds of miles away in Mexico. All but five of the 80 died in the first winter. However, Indians never enslaved the first 75, instead restoring them to health and tolerating their presence for several months. The Wikipedia entry ignores that one other Spaniard survived years of captivity with the other four but ultimately was left behind in the escape.
     In the spring of 1529, different bands of the Karankawa tribe enslaved the final five survivors (the Wikipedia entry lists only four and distorts the enslavement that occurred on the Texas coast). Esteban and the Spaniards remained slaves of Indians for more than five years on the Texas coast. The four who eventually escaped were Esteban, Cabeza de Vaca, Dorantes, and Castillo. (See this site's blog entry titled "The man left behind" to learn about a fifth survivor, Lope de Oviedo.)
     Esteban and the three main Spaniards escaped enslavement in the fall of 1534. They were never enslaved by Indians again as they made their way out of Texas and across northern Mexico, posing as shamans who could treat Indian ailments.
     There are other errors on that otherwise informative Wikipedia page. Numerous original errrors have since been corrected, including a story that most of the 80 survivors "were killed or died in the ensuing six years of captivity." Wikipedia's article still insists the expedition experienced numerous Indian attacks before Narváez sent his caravel ships away. The Indian attacks came AFTER Narváez sent his ships away. There is no mention of Apalachee Indians, a curious historical omission. Apalachee warriors were the main reason the expedition retreated by building boats to cross the Gulf of Mexico. The Wikipedia page miscontrues the Spanish concept of "La Florida" in the sixteenth century.  Also, the survivors did not land on "Galveston Island" as the Wikipedia page states  — they landed on a no longer extant island now known as the Velasco Peninsula south of Galveston.
     The idea that Narváez's original goal was to sail across the Guf of Mexico to Tampico, Mexico, is stated as fact in the Wikipedia article, but that is speculative at best. The Wikipedia page states that the four survivors "escaped into the American interior." However, their route was across northern Mexico after they left Texas. It would be accurate if the page had stated North America, but except for Florida and then Texas in the first year, the escapees never entered the present United States. Also, Esteban left Mexico City in 1538, not 1539. He began his travel with Friar Marcos to find the Seven Cities of Cibola in 1539.
     The page repeats several unsubstantiated but enduring negative stereotypes of Esteban by white writers over the centuries. All negative stereotypes of Esteban arose from speculations by Coronado, Castañeda, and several novelists and historians over the past five centuries. Those who knew him best (Cabeza de Vaca, Dorantes, Viceroy Mendoza, and Friar Marcos) never described Esteban negatively.
     The good news is that whoever controls the page corrected many of the most egregious errors on the original Wikipedia page. And at least Esteban's role was recognized under whatever name.


Shows you can't believe everything you see on Wikipedia.

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