The man left behind


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.
     Oviedo is the one Narváez expedition survivor that few history books rarely mention. Members of the Hernando de Soto expedition a decade later heard about him being more than a hundred miles from Malhado near the Mississippi River. They had Indians take a letter to him instructing him to join them. He wrote his name on the back of the letter to prove he was alive, but he hid when they searched for him until they finally gave up.
     Later the phrase "gone native" expressed Oviedo's preference for Indian society and his refusal to return to the world of Europeans.


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