Did Zunis kill Esteban as described?


Another unanswerable question— possibly the biggest one— is whether Zunis killed Esteban the day after he arrived at Hawikku Pueblo, in western New Mexico, as most books about Esteban insist.
     Well, maybe. Or maybe not.
     Most historical researchers (in agreement with most novelists), maintain that the Zunis killed Esteban in a running fight with bows and arrows early in the first morning. Many say the Zunis also killed the 300 Mexican Indians escorting the African. However, their belief is based on assumptions that some Mexican Indians with Esteban told Friar Marcos. They admitted they didn't see it happen, and for sure no European ever witnessed it. Friar Marcos was more than a hundred miles from Hawikku when Esteban arrived, so he just took the word of three Mexican Indians who said they survived an attack. Then the friar put what they told him in his journal for the viceroy in far-off Mexico City.
    Because Esteban's demise is only hearsay, not witnessed even by the three from his escort who reported to Friar Marcos, a minority of historians think the Zunis did not kill Esteban.
     As author of Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America, I did not side with either those who think the Zunis killed Esteban or with those who think they did not kill him. I listed the possibilities for both scenarios, urging future writers about Esteban to simply state that this question of his final fate is unprovable for either side, so writers should stop pretending that they know his final fate.


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