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Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca
Cabeza de Vaca1.jpg
Bust of Cabeza de Vaca
Born
Birth name: Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca

c. 1488/ 1490/ 1492
Died c. 1557/ 1558/ 1559/ 1560
Seville, Spain
Resting place Spain
Occupation Treasurer, explorer, author of La relación y comentarios, and ex-governor of Río de Plata in Argentina
Spouse(s) María Marmolejo
Parent(s) Francisco de Vera (father), Teresa Cabeza de Vaca y de Zurita (mother)

Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer of the New World, and one of four survivors of the 1527 Narváez expedition. During eight years of traveling across the US Southwest, he became a trader and faith healer to various Native American tribes before reconnecting with Spanish civilization in Mexico in 1536. After returning to Spain in 1537, he wrote an account, first published in 1542 as La relación y comentarios ("The Account and Commentaries"), which in later editions was retitled Naufragios y comentarios ("Shipwrecks and Commentaries"). Cabeza de Vaca is sometimes considered a proto-anthropologist for his detailed accounts of the many tribes of Native Americans that he encountered.

In 1540, Cabeza de Vaca was appointed adelantado of what is now Paraguay, where he was governor and captain general of New Andalusia. He worked to build up the population of Buenos Aires but, charged with poor administration, he was arrested in 1544 and then transported to Spain for trial in 1545. Although his sentence was eventually commuted, he never returned to the Americas. He died in Seville.

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