Interpreting territories of coastal natives described by Cabeza de Vaca

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   The first Europeans arrived in Texas in 1528. These men, mostly Spaniards, who were survivors of the Narváez Expedition to Florida, lived among the Texas natives for six years. 
   One of the Spanish survivors, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, gave an account of his journey, known as La Relación. Cabeza de Vaca’s account is filled with vivid and detailed descriptions of the appearance, lifestyle, and customs of the many native tribes with whom he and his fellows lived.
   Cabeza de Vaca’s description of the natives of Texas is valuable not only as the first anthropological record of American Indians, but also for the information it provides about where he traveled. 
   His description of where each tribe lived in relation to the other, which ones lived on the coast versus inland, and of their hunting, feeding, and fishing habits goes a long way toward helping us reconstruct his route along the Texas coast. 
   This article analyzes the information Cabeza de Vaca provides about the native tribes with an emphasis on locating them on a map of the Texas coast, giving us a better picture of the route he and his fellow Narváez Expedition survivors took.
It should be emphasized that all of the native tribes Cabeza de Vaca encountered on the Texas coast were nomadic. 
   That is, instead of living in fixed towns or villages, they moved frequently. This does not mean, however, that they wandered aimlessly. 
   Generally speaking, each tribe had its favorite spots for fishing, picking berries, gathering nuts, etc. and it would visit each spot during its season of greatest productivity. 
   The natives’ annual migratory habits were regular enough that some tribes knew that they could expect to see their neighbors arriving at a certain place on a certain day. 
   So, even though these natives did not have fixed homes, each tribe did have a known territory. Some of the natives’ territories overlapped, to the extent that some feeding grounds were visited by more than one tribe at the same time.

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