The Escaped Slave Who Discovered America
Esteban, a Captive of Spanish Explorers, Led an Eight-Year, 3,500-Mile Trek Across the Southwest and Mexico
“The first white man our people saw was a black man,” wrote historian and Pueblo native Joe Sando in Pueblo Nations.
Sando was referring to Esteban, an African who became the first non-Indian to enter what is now Arizona and New Mexico in 1539. Esteban made his way to the Southwestern corner of the what is now the United States 46 years before the first English-speaking colonists crossed the Atlantic.
African involvement in America’s history goes back further than most Americans realize. Although history has mainly forgotten them, an unknown number of …