It's stil debated if Viceroy Mendoza, who purchased Esteban from his Spanish slave owner Andrés Dorantes, was free or still a slave when he led Friar Marcos's expedition to find the "Seven Cities of Cíblola."
For those interested in such things, here are some facts about Esteban's name:
* Esteban is a Spanish male given name, derived from Greek Στέφανος (Stéphanos) and related to the English names Steven and Stephen.
* The correct accent on the Spanish name is on the first syllable, although American pronunciation is often heard with the accent on the last syllable.
It is traditional wisdom (and therefore very likely wrong) that Zuni Indians killed Esteban the day after he arrived at the Zuni village of Hawikuu in April of 1539.
My book Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America examines the fate that the first Spanish writers and then later writers over the centuries have made so commonly accepted. But my book presents a compelling argument that Zunis probably did not kill kill Esteban so soon in the way that so many history books claim. The Zunis might not have killed him at all.
Readers might not be aware of the differences in Esteban's Spanish society and America's society today.
Following are some of the major differences:
* Spain's practice of primogeniture, which resulted in disinheritance of second-born and later sons—and all daughters—who were accustomed to wealth, resulting in them doing whatever they had to do to reclaim wealth and status in the New World.
Indigenous Day? Columbus Day? New Mexico and some other states have embraced "Indigenous Day" as a holiday instead of continuing to honor Columbus, who is undeseving because of his treatment of natives of the Americas since he arrived in 1492. The following is an excerpt from the biography, Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America:
For years Esteban's biography author Dennis Herrick has collected science fiction novels and short stories about the "First Contact" by extraterrestrial aliens from another planet with the people of Earth. In writing the nonfiction biography, Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America, it occurred to him how Esteban's appearance with Zuni Puebloans in the spring of 1539 was a kind of "First Contact" for the Zunis, who had never seen a Black man before and also had not imagined another world across the sea.
Yikes. Although all my notes and early manuscript versions said March 30, somehow the book ended up with an April 7 date on page 161 for Esteban’s departure from Vacapa. He actually left on March 30, 1539. He left on Passion Sunday, now usually called Palm Sunday, which was a week before Easter Sunday. I have no idea how thsse miscues happen in publishing.
It was Friar Marcos who left on April 7, eight days later on the day after Easter, as the book states two pages later.
The book Esteban: The African Slave Who Explored America has been published for 14 months, but reviews are still being written, the latest being:
“A fascinating biography of one of history’s most extraordinary and underappreciated explorers. . . . This book will certainly prove to be a much more accurate source for those who study Esteban than previous works on his life and the significance of his travels.”
—Andrew Husa, Historical Geography