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Indian Captivity Narratives

This collection contains entire narratives of Indian captivity; that is to say, we have provided the reader the originals without the slightest abridgement. Some of these captivities provide little in way of customs and manners, except to display examples of the clandestine warfare Native Americans used to accomplish their means. In almost every case, there was a tug of war going on between principle government powers, French, American, British, and Spanish, and these powers used the natural prowess of the Indians to assist them in causing warfare upon American and Canadian settlers. There were definitely thousands of captivities, likely tens of thousands, as the active period of these Indian captivity narratives covers 150 years. Unfortunately, few have ever been put under a pen by the original captive, and as such, we have little first-hand details on their captivity. These you will find here, are only those with which were written by the captive or narrated to another who could write for them; you shall find in a later collection, a database of known captives, by name, location, and dates, and a narrative about their captivity along with factual sources. But that is for another time.

Narrative of the Captivity of John Ortiz – Indian Captivities

John Ortiz, a Spaniard, Who was Eleven Years a Prisoner Among the Indians of Florida In the year 1528 Pamphilo de Narvaez, with a commission, constituting him governor of Florida, or “all the lands lying from the river of Palms to the cape of Florida,” sailed for that country with 400 foot and 20 horse, in five ships. With this expedition went a Spaniard, named John Ortiz, a native of Seville, whose connections were among the nobility of Castile. Although we have no account of what part Ortiz acted in Narvaez‘s expedition, or how he escaped its disastrous issue, yet it may not be deemed out of place to notice briefly here that issue. This Narvaez had acquired some notoriety by the manner in which he had executed a commission against Cortez. He had been ordered by the governor of Cuba to seize the destroyer of Mexico, but was himself overthrown and deserted by his men. On falling into the hands of Cortez, his arrogance did not forsake him, and he addressed him thus: “Esteem it good fortune that you have taken me prisoner.” “Nay,” replied Cortez, “it is the least of the things I have done in Mexico.” To return to the expedition of which we have promised to speak. Narvaez landed in Florida not very far from or perhaps at the Bay of Apalachee, in the month of April, and marched into the country with his men. They knew no other direction but that pointed out by the Indians, whom they compelled to act as guides. Their first disappointment was on their arrival at the village of...

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