Estevanico was an enslaved Moroccan who is best known as the first African-born person to explore America, this after surviving a brutal journey in 1528.
Born Esteban de Dorantes in 1500 in Azemmour, Morocco, Estevanico was enslaved by the Portuguese in 1513 and sold in Spain. In 1527, he became a member of a 600-person crew made up of men and women led by explorer Panfilo de Narvaez. The expedition was enacted to establish settlements in what is now Florida.
Upon arriving in America in 1528, the expedition was beset with troubles as indigenous tribes attacked them and the fleet also suffered shipwrecks while also experiencing bouts of bad weather. All but four people survived the overall journey to southern Florida with Estevanico being one of them.
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The explorers felt that their next best chance of survival would be to travel to the Spanish-held territory west of Florida and embark on a decade-long journey across the Gulf of Mexico, enduring enslavement by the tribes at various times. The group reached Mexico City where Estevanico once more was ordered to do the bidding of the Spanish.
The Viceroy of New Spain, now known as Mexico, ordered Estevanico to help lead an exploration of the Southwest region of America. In 1539, it is assumed that Estevanico was killed by a tribe members in an area now nestled in what is New Mexico today, as they most likely mistook him for a war messenger.
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