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Estevanico (c. 1500 – 1539) (also known as "Mustafa Zemmouri", "Black Stephen", "Esteban", "Esteban the Moor", "Estevan", "Estebanico", "Stephen the Black", "Stephen the Moor", and "Little Stephen") was of Berber North African origin, possibly from Azemmourmarker, Moroccomarker. He was the first known person born in North Africa to have arrived in the present-day continental United Statesmarker. An enslaved servant, he was one of four survivors of the Spanishmarker Narváez expedition and traveled with explorer Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca across the Southwest. Estevanico, Cabeza De Vaca, and Andres Dorantes were saved by a man named Alonso Del Castillo who is supposed to be the magic healer.

Early life

Estevanico was sold into slavery to the Portuguesemarker in the town of Azemmourmarker, a Portuguese enclave on Morocco's Atlanticmarker coast, in 1513, at an early age. Contemporary accounts referred to him as an "Arabized black"; "Moor", sometimes used for Berber natives; and black African. "A Spaniard, Diego de Guzmán, who saw him in Sinaloa in 1536, described him as 'brown'." He was raised as a Muslim, but was converted to Roman Catholicism upon enslavement. In 1520 he was sold to Andrés Dorantes de Carranza, a Spanish nobleman with whom he developed close ties.

North American explorer

Estevanico traveled with Dorantes to Hispaniolamarker and Cubamarker with Pánfilo de Narváez's ill-fated expedition of 1527 to colonize Floridamarker and the Gulf Coast. Estevanico became the first person born in Africa known to have set foot in the present continental United States. He and Dorantes were two of the expedition's four survivors, after the party attempted to sail to Mexicomarker on makeshift rafts. The group was shipwrecked on Galveston Islandmarker and most of the men either drowned, starved, or were killed by natives over the following years. By 1533 only Estevanico, Dorantes, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, and Alonso del Castillo Maldonado survived. Castillo's ability as a faith healer was said to have helped them with the Indians. The four had spent years enslaved by the Ananarivo of the Louisianamarker Gulf Islands. In 1534 they escaped into the American interior, contacting other Native American tribes along the way. The party traversed the continent as far as present-day southeastern Arizonamarker, and through the Sonoran Desertmarker to the region of Sinaloamarker in New Spain (present-day Mexicomarker), where they were reunited with countrymen.

In 1539, Estevanico was one of four men who accompanied Marcos de Niza as a guide in search of the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, preceding Coronado. When the others were struck ill, Estevanico continued alone, opening up what is now New Mexico and Arizona. He was killed at the Zuni village of Hawikuhmarker (in present-day New Mexicomarker). The tribe regarded him with mistrust, perhaps because his medicine gourd was trimmed with feathers from an owl, a bird that symbolized death to the Zuni. Other accounts suggest the Zuni did not believe his account of representing a party of whites, and further that he was killed because of his demand for women and turquoise.


  1. Robert Goodwin, Crossing the Continent, 1527-1540, Introduction, New York: Harper Collins, 2008
  2. Donald E. Chipman, "Estevanico", HAndbook of Texas Online, accessed 13 Aug 2009
  3. "Estevanico", Elizabethan Era, accessed 13 Aug 2009
  4. Donald E. Chipman, "Estevanico", Handbook of Texas Online, accessed 13 Aug 2009
  5. Donald E. Chipman, "Estevanico", Handbook of Texas Online, accessed 13 Aug 2009


  • Arrington, Carolyn. Black Explorer in Spanish Texas: Estevanico, Austin, TX: Eakin Press, 1986
  • Clarke, John Henrik. Christopher Columbus and the Afrikan Holocaust: Slavery and the Rise of European Capitalism, Brooklyn, NY: A & B Publisher Group, 1998. p. 81
  • Goodwin, Robert. Crossing the Continent, 1527-1540, New York: Harper Collins, 2008
  • Logan, Rayford. "Estevanico, Negro Discoverer of the Southwest: A Critical Reexamination", Phylon 1 (1940): 305-314.
  • Maura, Juan Francisco. El Gran Burlador de América: Alvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Parnaseo/Lemir. Valencia: Universidad de Valencia, 2008.
  • Shepherd, Elizabeth. The Discoveries of Esteban the Black, New York: Dodd, Mead, 1970. pp. 111-4.

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