Redefining American Identity: From Cabeza de Vaca to Barack by B. Railton

By B. Railton

Utilizing 5 own narratives and unlike either the normal and multicultural narratives, this booklet recommend cross-cultural transformation has been on the center of the USA because the first moments of touch.

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If the trickster story exemplified how the men had contributed a positive lasting influence to the native society’s beliefs, this moment makes clear that their customs have been impacted in a similar but more destructive manner. Yet it is more accurate to highlight the two influences’ interconnections—de Vaca 86%27*361%8-:))<4036%8-327    continues to heal natives throughout this section, participates in a variety of ceremonies, and even becomes a spiritual guide for those natives most directly victimized by the new destructive customs: “Those who remained dispossessed always followed us, from which the number of people grew to compensate for their loss” (143–44).

And it is precisely this ongoing cultural goal, contrasted and yet interconnected with de Vaca’s relationship to the native cultures, which provides over the final quarter of his narrative a series of complex moments that greatly influence de Vaca’s experiences and identity. The first such moment also represents de Vaca’s clearest recognition of these competing cultural perspectives and presences in his identity and text. As he concludes his narrative’s longest ethnographic section, a four-page discussion that has focused largely on the particular tribe’s preparations for and practices of war, de Vaca acknowledges    6)()*-2-2+%1)6-'%2-()28-8= his audience, implicitly but still more directly than he has for much of the narrative, noting, “This I have wanted to tell because, beyond the fact that all men desire to know the customs and practices of others, the ones who sometime might come to confront them should be informed about their customs and stratagems, which tend to be of no small advantage in such cases” (129–30).

1 But while examining Columbus’s multiple stages of experience can thus help undermine any absolute divisions between the explorers’ cultures and those that they encountered in the New World, it is another Spanish explorer, Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, whose experiences most fully exemplify the cross-cultural transformations at the heart of the exploration process. The obviously extreme nature of de Vaca’s2 time in the New World—after the expedition on which he served as an officer was shipwrecked on Florida’s Gulf Coast, he spent the next nine years making his way across the continent in the company of various native tribes and cultures—rather than distinguishing him from the typical European explorer, provides instead a particularly strong lens through which the cross-cultural transformations that always accompanied exploration can be perceived and analyzed.

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